Telcos bring broadband to Scottish isles

BT and Thus have joined forces to make high-speed Internet a reality on three Scottish islands

A partnership between two UK telcos and a regional government agency is bringing broadband to three local communities in remote areas of Scotland.

BT and Thus are combining their networks to allow some residents on the islands of Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles to receive high-speed Internet access. Around a third of the population on the three islands will be able to receive ADSL because of this plan -- making them the first Scottish island communities to do so, according to BT.

Thus operates high-speed wireless connections between the islands and the mainland, so BT Scotland is leasing capacity on these links -- giving individuals and businesses on the islands a link to BT's network on the mainland. The necessary connections between Thus and BT's networks should have been built by next spring.

According to BT, this initiative -- which is partially funded by Highlands and Islands Enterprise network -- is an example of how industry cooperation and public funding can close Britain's broadband divide. "We didn't think we could get broadband to these areas on our own, so it's good that we can do it in conjunction with Thus and Highlands and Islands Enterprise," a BT spokesman explained. "Since the launch of our actnow project, we've been sure that partnership is central to the challenge of getting broadband to the most remote areas of the UK."

Actnow, which began in late 2001, saw BT team up with development agencies to broadband-enable local exchanges that it would not otherwise be economically viable to upgrade. It cost a total of £10m, with £5.7m coming from the European Regional Development Council and at least £1.7m from BT.

A key factor in actnow is that local businesses and individuals are given education and training about the benefits of broadband, which has helped to increase the take-up of ADSL in the area.