Without a doubt the Isles of Scilly fit the perfect definition for a rural part of England at 28 miles off the South West tip of Cornwall. The island now has access to fibre based broadband (FTTC) on all five inhabited islands after an unused fibre optic cable running between Cornwall and Santander is Spain was re-purposed to link the islands to the mainland replacing the previous radio backhaul and new fibre cabinets installed to provide FTTC.
Fibre optic links have also been installed between St Mary's and Tresco and also between Tresco and Bryher. Microwave links have been used for St Martins and the even more remote St Agnes. Originally the islands had seven cabinets and some exchange only (EO) lines on St Martins, but extra cabinets (11 cabinets now) have been added to solve most of the EO problems and improve speeds on Bryher.
"The arrival of superfast fibre optic broadband demonstrates that good partnership working can overcome significant challenges. Superfast broadband has the potential to revitalise the islands’ economy and to enhance the quality of living and working arrangements in the Isles of Scilly. I am proud that we are now one of the best connected archipelagos in the world. This would not have been possible without the significant investment by BT and the European Convergence programme."Councillor Amanda Martin, Chairman of the Council of the Isles of Scilly
Our checking confirms that eight of the eleven cabinets are available for people to place orders on, with the expectation that others will switch over to having FTTC available shortly. There is still a small number of premises without access to the fibre based services once all the cabinets are live and we understand further solutions are being worked on to find solutions. The roll-out which saw the first cabinets go live a couple of weeks ago has made the Isles of Scilly one of the areas of the UK with the highest proportion of fibre based broadband availability.
After the years of slow speeds and limited backhaul we expect that shipments of games consoles and a multitude of IPTV based set-top boxes will be larger than usual this Christmas, latency from the speed tests we can see on the islands was around 70ms to London and the new backhaul will hopefully reduce this a lot, to more like the 25 to 35ms seen in Cornwall.