TNP Connects Most Remote Islands in Britain21/03/2014

During the worse weather the Shetland Islands have seen in 20 years TNP delivered a wireless network across some of the most remote and northerly parts of the UK.

Essential council services across the most remote islands in Britain have been bolstered by the installation of an advanced network, one that is providing enhanced connectivity to 60 sites including schools, council offices, community groups and local charities. The new hybrid network, which delivers a nearly tenfold increase in speed in some areas, comprises dark fibre, microwave radio, ADSL and satellite. In partnership with Shetland Islands Council, Lancaster-based specialists The Networking People (TNP), designed, configured and installed the microwave network across the main and remote islands.

TNP fitting out a remote cabinet on Shetland

TNP fitting out a remote cabinet on Shetland

The network benefited from TNP’s extensive experience in designing and implementing systems in remote regions, having been tailored by its experts to deliver significant cost efficiencies while being robust enough to operate effectively in rural areas. TNP utilised existing assets and equipment, which it boosted by installing a high-speed backbone tied into a fibre network at strategic points This was augmented by the design, procurement and installation of the latest point-to-point and point-to-multipoint microwave radio technology with power, cabinet and steelwork infrastructure. Equipment from Ceragon, for the point to point and Proxim, for the point to multipoint systems offered increased capacities and availability over other alternatives in this testing environment.

The network provides Wide Area Network (WAN) connections throughout Shetland via the Shetland Public Sector Network (SPSNet) and is depended upon by IT systems including telephony and video conferencing, internet access and public WiFi, remote desktop support and a virtual learning environment (VLE).

Susan Msalila, Executive Manager, ICT, at Shetland Islands Council, said: “The switchover has been absolutely seamless. To have people with the experience and flexibility of TNP was invaluable as we undertook this extremely challenging project. Even for sites they didn’t directly install, the team was on hand to test solutions on our behalf and guide us through options every step of the way.

“We chose to work with TNP because of their deep understanding of our needs and their forward-thinking, positive attitude reflected our own in taking a bold approach to replacing our entire network – a huge undertaking.”

TNP rigging new radio equipment in Shetland

TNP rigging new radio equipment in Shetland

Completed on time and to budget after a six month improvement project, the new network is projected to save the Council up to £1.6 million. This was achieved in a highly challenging environment, with Shetland, Britain’s most northerly islands, battered by up to 60mph winds and its worst weather in over 20 years during construction of key infrastructure, including equipment on seven telecoms masts.

Chris Wade, director at TNP, said: “Having worked extensively in the past with public sector bodies in rural locations, including on projects in Stirling and Cumbria, we were able to use our knowledge to deliver significant improvements in an extremely tight timescale. Being fully independent and working in partnership with the Council rather than as a supplier allowed us to recommend they buy some of the equipment they needed direct from manufacturers and integrate new infrastructure smoothly with their existing assets instead of starting from scratch, delivering huge cost savings.

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