Superfast broadband programme reaches half a million homes and businesses
The planned nationwide roll-out of the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband programme is now two thirds complete with more than 500,000 Scottish homes and businesses now connected to high-speed broadband.
The engineering milestone was passed as a new fibre cabinet in Gretna Green became the latest project to go live through the £410 million programme, which still has two years to go.
More than 2,200 new fibre street cabinets have been built, with the most northern serving 80 homes in Bod of Gremista, Shetland and the most southern covering 250 premises in Isle of Whithorn, Dumfries & Galloway. Openreach engineers have laid more than 5000KM of fibre cable which, laid end to end, would reach from Glasgow to New York.
Infrastructure secretary Keith Brown marked the landmark at Gretna’s Famous Blacksmith Shop and restaurant, a wedding business already benefitting from fibre broadband.
Mr Brown said: “The start of 2016 marks a real high point in our progress towards ensuring world-class digital connectivity for Scotland by 2020. Our fibre infrastructure is growing rapidly and on average each week the programme reaches another 7,000 premises.
“Today’s milestone is fantastic news for the 500,000 households and businesses across Scotland which would simply not have seen the benefits of high speed, high quality digital connectivity without the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband programme. It is among the most ambitious broadband infrastructure projects ever undertaken.”
The Digital Scotland rollout consists of two projects – one covering the Highlands and Islands area, led by Highlands and Islands Enterprise, and the other covering the rest of Scotland, led by the Scottish Government.
Other funding partners include the UK government through Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK), local authorities and the European Regional Development Fund. BT is investing £126 million in the two projects, which are being delivered on the ground by engineers from its local network business, Openreach.
Stuart Robertson, director of digital at HIE, said: “Availability of fibre broadband for homes and businesses in the Highlands and Islands has grown by over 55 per cent since 2014 and is expected to reach at least 84 per cent by the end of this year.
“We’re delighted that the partnership investment has brought better broadband to people in over 100 towns and villages previously missed. Every connection is vital to those living and working here and we’re already looking at the options to reach even further.”
The programme is due to pass 750,000 premises by the end of March 2018 and, alongside commercial investment in high-speed broadband, will mean around 95 per cent of all premises in Scotland will have access to services at speeds of up to 80Mbps.