BT Leases Subsea Cable to Bring New Network to Northern Isles

BT has reached agreement with Faroese Telecom to share part of a new fibre optic submarine cable being laid between the Faroe Islands, Orkney and Shetland and the Scottish mainland.

The 720 km subsea cable, which will come ashore on the mainland at Banff, will provide connectivity to the Northern Isles alongside existing microwave radio links. BT has taken out a long-term lease on the cable which FT expects to have up and running by spring 2008.

The move is the first step towards bringing BT’s 21 Century Network, the world’s most radical next generation communications transformation programme, to the islands.

BT is investing around £1 billion on the new network in Scotland and will be replacing equipment in more than 1000 exchanges across the nation.

Brian Fitzpatrick, managing director of BT Wholesale Markets, said: “It is great to have reached agreement with Faroese Telecom to utilise capacity in their cable. This is really good news for Orkney and Shetland, as it will be a key part of BT’s plans to bring the benefits of its 21st Century Network to the islands.

“Over the next five years, 21CN will represent one of the biggest ever investments in the economic infrastructure of the UK by a private company.

“We believe it is the most complete, exciting and ambitious business transformation programme anywhere in the global telecoms industry.”

Kristian R. Davidsen, FT CEO, said: “I am extremely pleased with the agreement and the fact that BT is our first customer on our fibre optic cable connecting the Northern Isles and the Scottish mainland.”

FT is negotiating with oil companies to buy capacity on the cable from North Sea platforms to the mainland.

It is the first optical fibre cable to be deployed between Shetland and Orkney and the Scottish mainland. FT’s total investment in the cable amounts to approximately €16.1 million.

BT’s 21CN programme is designed to remove duplication across the existing multiple networks and systems to create a single, converged multi-service internet protocol (IP) based network. It will allow customers to customise, personalise and change a growing range of advanced new converged services in real time.

BT’s investment will create a network which will allow access to a wealth of multimedia information and entertainment services, delivered to a device of a customer’s choice whether at home, in the office, or on the move.

And in the converged world of 21CN, customers benefit from greater flexibility and cost-efficiency – for instance, customers could make a fixed-line call using their mobile phone when in the home or in the office.