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Minister kicks off new superfast campaign

Press Release   •   May 14, 2018 12:00 BST

On the road: Digital Scotland's Sam Lindsay-Dorward and Sara Budge with Openreach's Robert Thorburn and Cabinet Secretary Fergus Ewing.

Rural affairs and connectivity minister Fergus Ewing MSP today helped to launch the latest phase of a major campaign to encourage more people to sign up to fibre broadband.

Across Scotland, more than 95 per cent of the country can now access fibre broadband thanks to the £428M Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband (DSSB) programme and commercial coverage.

Mr Ewing was joined by DSSB Director Sara Budge and Robert Thorburn, Fibre Broadband Partnership Director for Openreach, to launch the ‘Up your Street’ campaign at Cramond in Edinburgh. It features a branded ad-van, which then began a month-long tour of Scotland to promote the latest fibre broadband availability.

To benefit, people need to sign up for the new, faster services with an internet service provider, as upgrades are not automatic.

The DSSB programme is delivered through two projects – led by Highlands and Islands Enterprise in its area and the Scottish Government in the rest of Scotland. Funding partners also include the UK Government through Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK), BT Group, local authorities and the EU via the European Regional Development Fund.

Thanks to the programme more than 890,000 premises across the country are able to connect to the new network, which has reached places like Amisfield, Dumfries and Galloway; Linlithgow, West Lothian; and Fettercairn, Aberdeenshire.

Each week the programme, one of the largest broadband infrastructure projects in Europe, reaches more remote and rural areas.

Mr Ewing said: “Fast and reliable internet is absolutely vital to communities across Scotland. It helps businesses stay connected with customers and colleagues, and helps families learn, work, play and shop. People increasingly expect more flexibility, reliability, and faster speeds when downloading or sharing files, streaming videos with colleagues, friends or family, and creating more elegant solutions to modern business problems.

“So it’s great that the success of the DSSB programme, combined with coverage by commercial means, has enabled over 95% of Scotland gain access to fibre broadband.

“That said, there are still many that have not taken advantage of this improvement and I would encourage everyone to check whether they are eligible for a faster broadband service than they currently receive, either with their current provider or on price comparison websites.

“But the Scottish Government isn’t stopping there – I am acutely aware that there are still those that have not benefitted from the current programme and that is why we are extending superfast broadband access to every home and business in Scotland by the end of 2021 – the only part of the UK to do so.”

Thanks to additional investment as a result of innovation and new funding generated by stronger than expected take-up, the programme will continue to deliver new DSSB deployment in every local authority area during 2018 and beyond, complementing the fact that more premises than ever before now have fibre broadband available to them.

Robert Thorburn, Fibre Broadband Partnership Director for Openreach in Scotland, said: “Across the country more than 95 per cent of premises can now order a fibre broadband service, and strong take-up has already helped generate more funds to invest back into the network. I’d urge all residents and businesses to touch base with their service providers to make sure they’re getting the fastest service available. Once you’ve switched to life in the fast lane, there is no going back!”

The Ad-van is on tour across the country, visiting places like Aberfeldy, Colinsburgh, Jedburgh, Banchory and Lockerbie.

ENDS

* These are the top wholesale speeds available over Fibre-to-the-Cabinet (FTTC) technology from Openreach to all service providers; speeds offered by service providers may vary.

Notes to editors:

Due to the current network topography and the economics of deployment, it is likely that not all premises within selected exchange areas will be able to access fibre-based broadband at the same point in the roll-out.

The Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband programme aims to provide fibre broadband infrastructure to parts of Scotland not included in commercial providers’ investment plans, reaching around 95 per cent of premises when combined with current commercial roll-out plans.

About BDUK

Superfast Britain is a UK Government programme of investment in broadband and communication infrastructure across the UK. Run by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, this investment helps businesses to grow, creates jobs and will make Britain more competitive in the global race. The portfolio is comprised of three elements:

£780m to extend superfast broadband to 95% of the UK by 2017

£150m to provide high speed broadband to businesses in 22 cities

£150m to improve quality and coverage of mobile phone and basic data network services

Administered on behalf of Government by Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK), Superfast Britain is transforming Britain by promoting growth, enabling skills and learning, and improving quality of life.

About Openreach

Openreach is Britain’s digital network business.

We’re 30,400 people who connect homes, mobile phone masts, schools, shops, banks, hospitals, libraries, broadcasters, governments and businesses - large and small - to the world.

Our mission is to build the best possible network, with the highest quality service, making sure that everyone in Britain can be connected.

We work on behalf of more than 590 communications providers like SKY, TalkTalk, Vodafone, and BT, and our fibre broadband network is the biggest in the UK, passing more 27 million premises. We’re also the platform for Britain’s thriving digital economy, which is the largest in the G20.

We’re working hard to give people the speeds they need to run and enjoy their daily lives. Over the last decade, we’ve invested more than £11 billion into our network and we now manage more than 160 million kilometres of cable stretching from Scotland to Cornwall, from Wales to the east coast. And we’re continuing to take that network further - making superfast broadband speeds available to thousands more homes and businesses every week.

Openreach is a wholly owned and independently governed division of the BT Group, and it is a highly regulated business, with more than 90 per cent of our revenues generated from services that are regulated by Ofcom.

Any company can access our products under exactly the same prices, terms and conditions.

For the year ended 31 March 2017, we reported revenues of £5.1bn.

For more information, visitopenreach.co.uk