Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Highlands and Islands - £145.8 project to bring faster broadband, supported by BDUK and implemented by HIE

The BBC reports that, belatedly, the Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) has signed the contract with BT to supply broadband in the Highlands and Islands.
BT will lay more than 497 miles (800km) of new fibre on land and about 248.9 miles (400km) of subsea cables over 19 crossings to remote islands.
While BT is contributing £19.4 million, there is another £126.4 million from the public purse. The reports are unclear, but while the Scottish Government seeks to claim some responsibility, it does not claim to have contributed any of the £126.4 million, which appears to have come from HM Treasury in London, by way of BDUK.

HIE claims in a press release that it was a "once-in-a-generation partnership":

The project, led by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) and delivered by BT, is being hailed as the UK’s most complex and challenging broadband project ever.

It means that around 84 per cent of Highlands and Islands homes and businesses will have access to fibre broadband by the end of the project.

Communications Minister Ed Vaizey said:
The geography of the Highlands and Islands makes this project one of the most challenging in our nationwide roll out of broadband, and I'm delighted that today's announcement means that faster speeds and better access are now one step closer to becoming a reality for these communities. We do more business online than any other European country and this will be a tremendous boost for the local Highland and Islands economies.
The project entails BT taking fibre to the cabinet (FTFC), offering broadband speeds of up to 80Mbps, plus some Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) and Ethernet services.

BT and HIE will assess emerging technologies through a £2.5 million Innovation Fund, with a view to extending faster broadband to the most remote places in the Highlands and Islands.

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