BT said yesterday that specialist vessels would lay 20 fibre optic submarine cables in a "massive engineering effort" between May and October next year, providing a fibre broadband backbone which would eventually link communities from Kintyre to Orkney. This is part of the £146m project launched with taxpayer-backed development agency Highlands and Islands Enterprise in March to bring high-speed fibre broadband to communities across the north of Scotland.
Chelmsford-based Global Marine Systems will conduct marine route surveys and supply the cables. Orange Marine, based in France, has been contracted to lay around 250 miles of subsea cables, while Hampshire-based A-2-Sea Solutions has been chosen to work onshore, connecting the cables to BT's terrestrial network.
BT said it had a successful track record of working with all three companies, which had been chosen from a competitive tendering process.
The longest cable will run for nearly 49 miles under the Minch, from Ullapool to Stornoway.
The public sector investment in the overall £146m project is £126.4m. BT is investing £19.4m.