Superfast broadband is on its way to 15 island communities as work to lay new subsea cables begins this Spring.
The £384 million North Lot contract will improve connectivity to islands in four different council areas.
They include Colonsay, Iona and Lismore in Argyll and Bute, Eigg in Highland and Eday, Flotta, Hoy, Rousay, Sanday, Shapinsay and Stronsay in Orkney.
Also benefitting in Shetland are Fair Isle, Unst, Whalsey and Yell.
The work is part of the Scottish Government’s £600 million Reaching 100% programme (R100).
Weather permitting, survey vessels aim to begin detailed groundwork in May, with cable laying beginning in Spring 2022.
Minister for Energy, Connectivity and the Islands, Paul Wheelhouse said: “Just a few months on from announcing the signing of the North Lot contract, this is another very significant step towards ensuring our commitment to deliver 100% superfast broadband across Scotland, including to some of our most remote island communities.
“The role of digital connectivity in our everyday lives has never been clearer as we tackle the pandemic. The new subsea cables will ensure these 15 island communities have access to futureproofed, resilient, reliable connections – something that will make a huge difference to both residents and businesses there. It will help improve the quality of life for both current and future islanders, while also benefitting visitors once inbound tourism can safely return.
“Scotland has some of the most challenging locations anywhere in Europe for providing telecommunications infrastructure and this alongside our interventions on mobile connectivity, demonstrates we are taking innovative steps to provide superfast access to some of the hardest-to-reach areas.”
BT plc has been contracted to deliver all of the R100 contracts and Openreach will lead the infrastructure build.
Robert Thorburn, partnership director at Openreach Scotland, said: “The subsea build is essential to bring reliable, fast broadband to those island communities which don’t yet have access.
“It’s a massive challenge, not only because of the number of cables involved and the sensitive and complex nature of the work, but also the fact it must be done while the weather is on our side. Our subsea partner Global Marine will have survey ships out in Scottish waters this Spring and Summer to start planning the cable routes.”