Orkney and Shetland MP Alistair Carmichael has welcomed news that BT is set to invest £8 million in a new fibre-optic cable that will improve connection speeds for many internet users in the Isles and boost the reliability of services.

Brendan Dick, Director of BT Scotland, confirmed plans for the new cable at a meeting of the Northern Isles Digital Forum in Lerwick yesterday.

Almost 1000 km of cable will be used to link Orkney and Shetland with the North of Scotland and boost services. The existing microwave radio connections will be retained as back up to the new connection.

Commenting, Mr Carmichael said:

‘In the past people in the Isles have generally been at the back of the queue when it comes to improvements in digital services and online connections. The coalition government has made clear that extending high speed broadband to communities in every corner of the country is a genuine priority.

‘The UK government has allocated around £100m to support the rollout of broadband services in Scotland and HIE, Shetland Telecom and others have been instrumental in driving this work forward locally.

‘The announcement of a new fixed digital link for Orkney and Shetland is welcome. It is clear that a lot of work remains to be done but this £8m investment will benefit many people in Orkney and Shetland directly and is an important step towards faster internet connections for people right across the Isles in future.’