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BN106 Networking:High Speed Internet Connections for Orkney Islands


The Orkney Islands lie 10 miles off the north east corner of Scotland and are an archipelago of approximately 70 islands covering 990 km2, of which 20 islands are inhabited.  The exact number of islands depends on what you define as an island and what you define as a rock – the colloquial definition is that it is an island if you can keep a sheep on it for a year!  The population of Orkney is approximately 20,000, with about 15,000 of these living on the largest island (known as Mainland).  The largest population centres of Kirkwall (~8,500) and Stromness (~2,200) are both on mainland.  The remainder of the population is scattered across the islands in small villages and isolated properties.  Historically the mainstays of the economy have been crofting (small scale farming) and fishing.  More recently the development of North Sea Oil has provided employment and income to the islands, mainly through the oil terminal on Flotta.  There is also a developing tourist industry largely based on the many archaeological sites and unique wildlife of the islands.  However, changes in farming and fishing along with doubts over the long term future of the North Sea Oil supply mean that alternative employment opportunities are necessary.

There are currently Internet connections to the main population centres but these are very variable.  Some are modern high speed links via SHEFA-2 but others are rather slow and unreliable.  More remote areas of Mainland and some of the more remote islands have difficulty getting any connection at all and some still rely on dial-up links, which are obsolete.  This limits the opportunities for modern e-commerce solutions and the development of on-line businesses.  It even impacts tourism as more people research and book their holidays on line.   


You are to provide a report for the Orkney Islands Council that explains the options available to provide high speed and reliable Internet connections to the most northerly of the islands: North Ronaldsay.

Nearest Post Code KW17 2BE

Lat (WGS84)   N59:22:19 (59.371925)

Long (WGS84) W2:24:59 (-2.416359)

OS Land Ranger HY764540

The easiest way to find the island is to use or which both have street level mapping of the UK and search on “North Ronaldsay”.  You can then zoom to get a wider or closer view.  Note that this is so remote there is no StreetView

North Ronaldsay island will come up on searches so you can find out more about this remote location.

You should produce a formal report discussing the technologies available to provide reliable and high speed Internet connections to the island.  Consider the problems that this location presents and how the technologies resolve those problems.  You need to make recommendations for which technologies to use to provide Internet connections to all the premises on this island.  As can be seen from the maps on, the entire island is virtually flat, with a maximum elevation of only 20 metres.

You need to cover the entire connection route from the premises on the island to a major Internet backbone.  This will involve more than one technology.

The Orkney Islands Council raises taxes against the oil companies that use the oil terminals within the islands and directs this money to developments within the island.  This project is to be funded from the oil taxes and so costs are not a limiting factor, but the accountants will need to have some idea of the relative costs of your solutions.

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