Schools, ferry terminals and community buildings in the Shetland Islands have high-speed internet access thanks to a forward-thinking project delivered by The Networking People (TNP) in partnership with the local council, completed in extreme weather conditions on Britain’s most northerly islands.
The new IT system is connected by a network designed and configured by TNP and replaces a solution subsidised by the Scottish government-funded Pathfinder North project, which came to an end on 20 March 2014 and would have cost over £1 million to renew.
Shetland Islands Council worked with TNP to find a cost-effective alternative that provides faster, more reliable internet connections using a combination of commercial masts, wireless and ADSL technology.
Chris Wade, director of TNP, said: “This was a challenging project and had to be completed to a tight timescale before the incumbent solution came to an end in March. The complexity was heightened by the remote nature of Shetland and its unique, extreme weather conditions, with ground wind speeds in excess of 60mph.
“The worst weather for 20 years hit Shetland in January and February 2014, when our engineers were installing masts at heights of up to 40 metres in the path of oncoming storms that subsequently flooded and destroyed parts of the UK.”
In total, TNP installed equipment on seven masts to provide connectivity for 21 sites and provided consultancy support to the council on how best to connect the remaining 39 sites. TNP’s engineers made use of all existing assets where possible and guided the local authority through the purchase of additional equipment and services direct from manufacturers, saving thousands of pounds.
The scope of TNP’s role included:
- Integration of existing Motorola Solutions point-to-point 5GHz equipment
- Design and deployment of Proxim 5GHz point-to-multipoint equipment
- Design and deployment of Ceragon licensed spectrum point-to-point equipment
- TNP advised on the design and implementation of all wireless point-to-point carrier class microwave kit elements (not Wi-Fi).
Tony Lavelle, ICT analyst at Shetland Islands Council, commented: “The team at TNP were never daunted by the scale of the task at hand and shared our can-do attitude towards this complex project. Their experience in this field was invaluable and TNP enabled us to deliver this unique project on-time and on-budget.”
The work follows a similar project TNP completed with Stirling Council, bringing rural connectivity to the area with a county-wide high-capacity network via a high-speed link for the very first time.