Technology

Engineers to create single-thread digital highway across Forth Road Bridge

A giant compressor will be used to make the 16mm fibre cable which will deliver gigabit-capable internet services to South Queensferry.

The Forth Road Bridge is to be used for cable carrying ultrafast internet to the town lying in its shadow, creating a “digital highway”.

Openreach Scotland engineers will use a giant air compressor on Wednesday to blow a continuous, three-kilometre stretch of glass fibre right across the bridge at speeds of up to 60 metres per minute.

The new 16mm fibre cable – containing 432 tiny glass fibres, each a tenth the size of a human hair – will deliver gigabit-capable internet services to thousands of residents and businesses in South Queensferry.

A further two kilometres of fibre have been built to the bridge’s north approach, with the new network linking back to a main fibre hub in Inverkeithing, Fife.

Katie Milligan, Openreach Scotland board chairwoman, said: “This is a unique moment for civil engineering in Scotland as two huge infrastructure projects come together.

“We’re building a new ultrafast digital highway – and going across the Forth Road Bridge is the fastest, most direct way to get it done.

“It’s impossible to join up spans of fibre on the bridge, so it has to be done in one long piece. It’s amazing to think that these tiny fibres will future-proof the internet for thousands of homes and businesses on the south side of the bridge for decades to come.

“This is a once-in-a-generation engineering task to make broadband fit for the future, and we’re proud to be literally bridging the digital divide across this iconic landmark.

“As we saw during lockdown, good connectivity reduces pressures on our road network, and can cut emissions, by giving many Scots the ability to work where they live.

“It’s great to see the iconic Forth Road Bridge play a part in a new, digital era which, like the bridge itself, will serve Scotland for generations.”

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