SSE and BT have agreed to take forward discussions about incorporating fibre into subsea cables following an approach by Orkney MSP Liam McArthur.
Writing earlier this month to Scottish Government Ministers and the Chief Executives of SSE and BT, Mr McArthur called for “a commitment to work collaboratively to ensure real improvements are delivered in both grid and broadband infrastructure for island communities.”
In response, BT Scotland Director Brendan Dick said BT was “open to any opportunities to deliver what we need to for our customers”, while SHEPD Director of Customer Operations, Dale Cargill, confirmed “there is a possible opportunity and we [SHEPD] would be keen to explore this further.”
A response from the Scottish Government is still awaited.
Commenting, Orkney’s MSP said:
“I am encouraged by the initial responses from SSE and BT. I welcome their willingness to discuss possible options for delivering improved grid and better broadband services for island communities. This sort of joined-up approach is absolutely essential in making best use of investment.
“Given their responsibility for overseeing broadband roll out across the Highlands & Islands, there is clearly a role for HIE in facilitating these discussions. Hopefully this will enable progress to be made over the coming months and that this process will gain the support of the Scottish Government. After all, while there is plenty of time to find a solution, the clock is ticking in terms of SSE’s consultation.
“The prize a stake is the prospect of improved broadband coverage and better grid connections. It is a prize I am determined should be secured for our islands.”