Fed up with all this, and seeing huge economic advantages in having superfast data speeds in the islands, Shetland Islands Council has funded the Shetland Telecom project, to the tune of £1.4 million. This will wire Shetland to the Faroese cable using fibre-optic links running the length of the central mainland, plus a subsea cable off the west coast.
Small, community broadband projects will link to this, and major data processing and storage companies have already expressed an interest in moving to the isles as a result. Costs are expected to be recouped just from the connection of council, NHS and other public buildings to the new network. Mobile phone coverage, streaming video, broadcast data connections...all will be among the fastest in the country. I think we can expect BT to either jump on the bandwagon pretty damn quick, announce that hey, they're connecting to the Faroese cable after all, or start muttering savagely that Shetland Telecom isnae fair, and that the council should give them the money instead.
Anyway today, the work began in earnest. A £55,000 machine called the Ditch Witch is cutting a micro-trench and laying the cable along one of Shetland's busiest roads, at speeds thought impossible until now. The Ditch Witch has never been used in the UK before and can lay up to 600 metres of cable a day.