Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon confirmed today that 150,000 homes and businesses in communities across Scotland, including 30,000 in the Highlands and Islands, can now benefit from fibre broadband thanks to the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband partnership.
Fibre broadband delivered through the £410 million Digital Scotland rollout is now live in more than 120 locations. They include Kemnay in Aberdeenshire, Scone in Perthshire, Sumburgh on Shetland, Leuchars in Fife, Milton of Leys in Inverness and Selkirk in the Scottish Borders.
The 150,000 households and businesses can now access broadband services at speeds of up to 80Mbps*. More premises will be able to connect as engineers from BT’s local network business, Openreach, continue work on local upgrades.
Fibre broadband enables multiple users in a home or business to access the internet, download and share large files at the same time and more quickly than ever before. Today’s announcement means many more families can now connect to these services for the first time, as well as enabling businesses and organisations to diversify and expand their services.
So far, engineers have laid around 300km of sub-sea cable and 2,400km of cable on land – enough to stretch from Shetland to Land’s End in Cornwall and back again – and installed around 600 new street cabinets to house connections as part of the Digital Scotland rollout.
Announcing the milestone, Ms Sturgeon said: “The rollout of superfast broadband will allow more households to connect to fibre broadband services for the first time, as well as giving businesses the opportunity to enhance their services.
“Today marks another significant step for Scotland and the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband partnership. This is the fastest roll-out of its kind anywhere in the UK, passing 150,000 premises in record time – an engineering feat of the kind for which Scotland is renowned. Right here in Inverness, Culloden and Milton of Leys more than 8,000 homes and businesses can now benefit from our roll-out.
“As well as the project being available in urban areas that weren’t previously covered by fibre broadband, like Dyce in Aberdeen, it is also reaching rural communities, such as Cullen and Aberlour in Moray, who will benefit greatly from the business opportunities fibre broadband brings. Across Moray as a whole, one in two homes and businesses can now choose to connect to fibre broadband.
"We are still in the early stages, but already thousands of Scottish homes and businesses are able to take advantage and sign up. They simply wouldn’t have had access to high-speed technology without this ambitious partnership project.
“It’s fundamental to the Scottish Government’s aim to deliver world class connectivity by 2020, enabling people across Scotland to connect any time, any place, anywhere using any device.”
The Digital Scotland rollout consists of two projects – one covering the Highlands and Islands area and the other covering the rest of Scotland. More than 30,000 premises are now passed in Highlands and Islands and 120,000 in the rest of Scotland. Both projects are being delivered on the ground by BT, which is investing £126m in the programme.
In total, more than three quarters of a million homes and business premises are expected to benefit from the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband initiative. Funding partners include the Scottish Government, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, the UK Government through Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK), local authorities and the European Regional Development Fund as well as BT.
BT Scotland’s fibre programme director Liz Mallinson said: “The Digital Scotland projects constitute a massive civil engineering challenge. A lot of the early work has been in planning, surveying and building central infrastructure.
“So it’s really a remarkable achievement to see fibre broadband services already reaching 150,000 homes and business premises in more than 120 communities, and this is just the start for many of these locations as engineers continue work on local upgrades.
“Hand in hand with our commercial rollout, it means around 1.4 million Scots can now access fibre broadband on the Openreach network. The speed at which we’ve reached today’s milestone is a testament to the commitment and determination of our engineers, who keep Scotland connected day in and day out. They’ve completed the bulk of this work in just seven months, reaching today’s milestone faster than any other broadband partnership rollout in the UK.”
Stuart Robertson, Director of Digital at Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), said: “This public investment is creating a brand new fibre network right across the Highlands and Islands. It will change the way people in many of our remote, rural and island communities use broadband, opening up new opportunities.
“It’s great news that we have now brought fibre based broadband to more than 30,000 homes and businesses in Argyll, Highland, Moray and Shetland – and this is just the start. We are also making great progress both on land and subsea building the network which will bring better broadband closer to all.”
Fibre broadband enables multiple users in a home or business to access the internet, download and share large files at the same time and more quickly than ever before. Anyone who wants to receive fibre broadband should contact their service provider.
Digital Economy Minister Ed Vaizey said: “The digital landscape of Scotland is going through a remarkable transformation. The UK Government is investing £120 million in superfast broadband for Scotland, and I’m delighted that more than 150,000 Scottish homes and businesses are already able to benefit from the work done so far.”
Most of the communities have fibre for the first time, with the remainder seeing existing or planned coverage extended. People can check with their service provider to see if their line is passed by the new network or visit www.digitalscotland.org, where they can also register with ‘Keep Me In The Loop’ for updates on the rollout’s progress.
Alongside commercial roll-out, the Digital Scotland programme will see around 95 per cent of premises in Scotland able to connect to fibre broadband infrastructure by the end of 2017/18. Locations will be announced quarterly for the life of the projects as the fibre network expands.