Residents on the Isles of Scilly will soon be able to enjoy superfast fibre broadband thanks to a groundbreaking Internet access project which will make them the most connected islands in the world.
A £3.7m project will see a fibre optic cable currently running between the UK and Spain diverted across to the island chain, located 28 miles off the South West tip of Cornwall, as part of a pioneering scheme to give the islanders much faster fibre broadband.
The operation will utilise a 939km fibre optic cable linking Porthcurno in Cornwall and Santander in Spain via the Atlantic Ocean, which has been unused since 2006, cut at two points (15km and 100km away from Land's End) in order to divert a section to the Isles of Scilly.
The cable will then be pulled ashore and connected to a local network with the hopes that residents of the island will be able to buy access to high speed broadband by the end of the year.
The 2,200 residents of the Isles of Scilly have until now relied upon a broadband service provided by a radio link between Lands End and the islands, which provides connections of around 2-3MBps.
Amanda Martin, chairman of the Council of the Isles of Scilly, said: "Superfast Broadband will create exciting opportunities for new and existing businesses. Its installation will also help our islands become more economically viable and provide benefits for future generations."
The project is one of several involved in the £132m "Superfast Cornwall" initiative, which aims to bring 60-80 Mbps fibre broadband to 95% of home in Cornwall and is backed by the European Regional Development Fund, BT and Cornwall Council.
Jeremy Steventon-Barnes, Superfast Cornwall operations director for BT, which is heavily involved in the government's BDUK programme to spread faster internet access, said: "Bringing superfast broadband to the Isles of Scilly is an immensely challenging project for a wide range of engineering and environmental reasons, and a big team from across BT is working with our public sector partners to make it happen."
"The project fits perfectly with BT and Superfast Cornwall's strong reputation for innovation and environmental awareness. It emphasises the leadership role that the Superfast Cornwall partnership is playing in showing how superfast broadband and its benefits can be taken to remote places in a way which would have been unimaginable in the quite recent past."