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S Whiteness peninsula in Shetland

South Whiteness

Shetland community is region's top spot for full fibre broadband take-up

Tiny peninsula tops the chart for full fibre take up

South Whiteness is a small community of homes dotted along an idyllic three mile peninsula, a few miles north-west of the Shetland capital Lerwick. With a local school and facilities in Whiteness village, and stunning views across Stromness Voe and Whiteness Voe, it's hardly surprising that it has attracted a range of residents keen to call it home.

One aspect of life was trickier for those living there - and that was broadband connectivity. With historic speeds of around 1Mbps download, using mainstream internet for day to day family or business activities was a struggle.

So it was a huge relief when near the start of lockdown, the Digital Scotland project laid a fibre optic cable, bringing with it an opportunity for gigabit technology. Local residents who include young families, business folk, teachers and public service workers have jumped at the chance to order. More than 75% of local homes on the Shetland West service have taken it, currently the highest percentage of full fibre take up in the region.

 

The difference is like night and day. I’d say this is the most significant infrastructure investment for our community since the peninsula had water upgraded.
Catherine Hughson, Councillor, Shetland West

South Whiteness community Shetland

Meet the residents

A few of the locals who are now taking advantage of full fibre connectivity

Cllr Catherine and Florrie Hughson and Jack Scobie of Openreach

Councillor Catherine Hughson

Catherine Hughson and her grand-daughter Florrie are pictured here with local Openreach engineer Jack Scobie. He's been a very welcome visitor to the area, socially distanced throughout the pandemic restrictions, connecting local homes to the new broadband services.

For Shetland West Councillor Catherine, who has lived in South Whiteness since 1974, better broadband for all island communities is an important issue for economic and social connectivity.

Its arrival locally has made a huge difference personally. Previously, it was frustrating trying to take part in virtual Council meetings effectively, or downloading the wide range of information she receives. She's been grateful to have the new service during COVID-19 restrictions. As Executive Officer with Voluntary Action Shetland, it helped connect her with all the groups and volunteers as the community organised its response to the lockdown. 

"Good broadband is vital in keeping people connected, and has allowed our community to keep working and studying from home. I've seen this first hand during the pandemic, including for my grand-daughter Florrie, who can now properly use online education platform 'Glow'. It’s vital we continue to do all we can to find solutions for all rural homes and businesses," she said.

The Smith family

The Smith family in South Whiteness are the perfect advert for anyone thinking about making a life in Shetland. Indeed, having swapped the beaches north of Auckland for the peninsula in 2011, they feature on Shetland.org to help encourage others thinking of a future here.

Shetlander Ross Smith met his wife-to-be be Bronwyn in Scotland, and they moved to her native New Zealand, where Ross took up an opportunity to study Physiotherapy. After over five happy years there, the couple decided the future for their young family lay in Shetland.

Spotting a gap in the Shetland market, they successfully set up Injury Shetland. With a business, four children and Bronwyn's additional work in teaching, the arrival of fibre broadband is a big deal.

While the practice itself is based in Lerwick, as everyone who runs a business knows, there are a lot of tasks which fall outwith working hours. The new services have brought the busy family flexibility, particularly in the current climate - where working and schooling from home, as well as keeping in touch with colleagues, clients, friends and family is so important.   

Harold Massie of South Whiteness

Local services champion welcomes full fibre broadband

Shetland born Harold Massie, who is a retired radio and telecommunications engineer, settled in beautiful South Whiteness when he built a new house here seven years ago. 

Harold is well known in the local community as a patient representative, and as former Chairman, of the NHS Public Partnership Forum. The Partnership is credited with bringing together patients, GPs, staff and management at the Lerwick Health Centre and across wider NHS Shetland to revamp the patient appointment system.

With his interest in telecoms, Harold spearheaded an investigation into a radio link network for the community in 2015, but he now has a high speed package with download speeds of up to 100Mbps. It's a far cry from the sub 1Mbps copper service he initially had, although more recently he had upped his speed using a 4G antenna at his home. 

In addition to allowing him to stay in touch with his family in Canada and York, during the pandemic he has also managed social media accounts for the Shetland Public Engagement Network and Sound Dance Club.

 

 

 

 

Find out more about full fibre broadband

South Whiteness has 'Fibre to the Premises' technology. It's also known as Ultrafast Full Fibre broadband. It's the fastest, most reliable broadband as it runs on a pure fibre optic cable right to the home or business.

Fibre to the Premises

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