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Monday 6th September 2021

Global Marine has completed the initial subsea fibre-optic cable route survey scope for the Scottish Government’s Reaching 100% Programme (R100), being delivered by Openreach on behalf of BT. The project covers inter-island connections between Orkney, Shetland, and the Inner Hebrides as well as two connections back to the Scottish mainland.

The Scottish Government-funded R100 project aspires to extend superfast broadband capabilities at speeds of at least 30Mbps to every premises in Scotland.

Utilising the extensive subsea knowledge of our sister company OceanIQ, also part of the Global Marine Group, and specialist service provider Fugro, the cable route surveys are now complete, ahead of the 16-route cable lay. The fibre optic cable installation is scheduled to commence early in 2022 and will be delivered by Global Marine’s multi-purpose vessel, Normand Clipper.

Three survey vessels were mobilised on the project to complete specific scopes of geophysical and geotechnical survey work along the different cable routes. The scope of work also included an Unexploded Ordinance (UXO) assessment. As well as land survey activities, an aerial lidar survey was conducted to acquire topographical and inter-tidal survey data and photogrammetry.

Bruce Neilson-Watts, Managing Director of Global Marine said: “We are pleased that this initial stage of the project is almost complete. The diverse elements of the subsea survey data will combine together to give a rich and detailed picture of the seabed environment and shallow soils regime, providing essential information to deliver this high-profile project safely and effectively for the long-term benefit of many of Scotland’s residents.”

Mr Neilson-Watts continued: “With 16 routes throughout the Northern and Western Isles of Scotland, there has been great cooperation between our survey teams and local fisheries, and other users of the sea to ensure safe and efficient working, with minimal disruption to all stakeholders.”

Clive Downing, R100 Programme Director, Scottish Government said: “We recently announced the start of build for Scottish Government’s R100 North contract area, where 16 new subsea cables will be laid to provide superfast broadband access to some of the hardest-to-reach areas.

“As a result of the R100 North contract many homes and business will benefit from full fibre broadband, far exceeding our superfast commitment and providing future-proofed full fibre connectivity to some of the most rural and remote communities in Scotland. This is something that will make a huge difference to both residents and businesses as we continue to work, learn and access public services remotely.”

“Fugro and Global Marine have successfully mapped out the subsea routes through complex underwater and overhead surveys and this work is the first step in connecting islanders to faster broadband. I look forward to hearing about subsea progress in the upcoming months.”

Robert Thorburn, Openreach partnership director for Scotland, added: “R100 is a hugely important project and the subsea build is both complex and sensitive. Over this summer, our specialist partners, led by Global Marine, have used innovation and technology – in the air and on land and sea – to gather the extensive, in-depth knowledge we need to design the full fibre network to more islands.”