Historic island dragged into the present with a fibre lasso


The island of Lindisfarne, which is famous in history books and also known as the Holy Island, has been blessed with sacred fibre cabling from Openreach engineers.

The BT-owned fixed line wholesaler has completed a gigabit broadband upgrade to the ‘historic tidal island’ of Lindisfarne, situated roughly 1.5 km off the Northumberland coast. All islands could be described a historic in a geological sense, and also as tidal in that any island worthy of the name is presumably surrounded by a fair bit of water, but in this case it seems to mean the tide cuts it off from the mainland periodically and it once appeared in an old book.

Inhabitants of the island, which has apparently been in the history books since the sixth century for reasons not elaborated upon, can now plug themselves in and get up to one gigabit per second speeds. It’s all part of a wider fibre push in the Northumberland area, the type of which are happening in many areas of the UK. The release cites figures that claims the North East would create a £1.7 billion boost to its economy once rollout is finished.

Openreach has also announced plans to lay fibre broadband for the majority of premises in towns and villages across Northumberland including in Ashington, Corbridge, Haltwhistle, Haydon Bridge, Hexham, Longframlington, Lynemouth, Ponteland, Red Row, Rothbury, Seahouses, Shilbottle, Stocksfield and Ulgham. So good news if you live there.

“Twice a day when the tide comes in people living and working on Holy Island aren’t physically connected to the mainland but they can certainly stay virtually connected via their broadband now,” said Mike Poole, Chief Engineer and member of the Openreach North of England board. “Weather on the island can be extreme especially in winter so having more reliable broadband technology is arguably nearly as important as speed, although the speed will certainly come into its own in the summer months when thousands of visitors arrive.

“With visitors comes additional demand on existing infrastructure and that includes broadband. For businesses on the island, many of whom support the tourist industry, this new technology is vital. People still expect to be able to access Wi-Fi in cafes to upload their holidays snaps to social media and download films in the evening to relax after a day out.”

It seems like companies can no longer deploy a meter of broadband fibre without simultaneously explaining exactly how much richer the local area will subsequently become. You can be sceptical of the precise numbers they trot out, assuming these firms haven’t developed some sort of hyper advanced prescient AI engine capable of minutely plotting out the future, and have then chosen to restrain themselves from using that power to do anything other than find out how broadband deployments effect regional economies.

But generally more fibre = good if you live in an area that hasn’t got it, and we have a picture now of a very vibrant market in the UK, with firms like Openreach and so many others buzzing around the country hooking up places to fibre networks. So vibrant in fact that at Network X this week the subject of how many players can the market sustain came up again, with some predicting an imminent period of consolidation.


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