Cowdenbeath MSP Annabelle Ewing has been shadowing Openreach engineers to see the latest developments in high-speed broadband in her constituency.
She visited Inverkeithing telephone exchange and a superfast broadband street cabinet in North Queensferry and encouraged constituents to check if they can upgrade to faster services.
According to the independent website Think Broadband, more than 98 per cent of premises in the Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath area are now able to connect to broadband at a speed of 30Mbps and above.
It shows the average speeds, based on services currently purchased by local people, have risen from 3Mbps in 2010 to more than 30Mbps today – and could rise significantly if more people upgraded.
The MSP also heard about the challenges and benefits of rolling out the next generation of technology – future-proof, full-fibre services capable of carrying speeds up to 1Gbps*, where the fibre connection runs directly to people’s homes. Openreach is working with several local housebuilders to install full fibre technology into housing developments in places like Inverkeithing and Rosyth.
Ms Ewing said: “It’s been useful to see at first hand the progress that’s being made and hear about what’s coming next. Access to high quality digital networks helps drive our economy and I support the Scottish Government’s plans to extend access even further.
“We’re fortunate to have a good level of superfast broadband locally but there is still more to do and it’s good to hear that Openreach is committed to serving Scottish communities.
“I’d encourage local people to check with their provider whether they can get a better service. Research from Ofcom shows that many more could upgrade right now.”
She added: “Faster broadband is great for local businesses who can boost productivity by speeding up their online operations and families where everyone wants to use the internet at the same time!”
In addition to its own upgrades, Openreach has been working closely with the Scottish and UK Governments, local authorities and other partners since 2013 to bring fibre-based broadband to communities which were not included in any plans by commercial companies.
The Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband partnership rollout has reached dozens of communities in Fife and includes small deployments of FTTP in areas where it is the best technical solution.
The visit was hosted by James Carsley, Openreach’s fibre network programme director for Scotland, who said: “We know good, reliable broadband is really important to local people, and we have made great progress. However, there’s more work to be done.
“Annabelle Ewing shares our ambition to make sure everyone in Scotland has access to a quality broadband service. We appreciate that she was able to make time to come and learn about the realities of delivering digital technology into local homes.”
Openreach’s Fibre-to-the-Cabinet footprint, at speeds of up to 80Mbps*, currently passes nearly 2.6 million homes and business premises in Scotland, where take-up of superfast services across all networks stands at around 40 per cent.
Openreach is also starting to roll out FTTP more widely, with plans to reach three million homes and businesses across the UK by the end of 2020, and, if the conditions are right, to go significantly beyond.
*These are wholesale speeds available from Openreach to all service providers; speeds offered by service providers may vary. FTTP is capable of delivering the fastest residential broadband speeds in the UK – up to 1Gbps – fast enough to download a two hour HD movie in 25 seconds or a 45-minute HD TV programme in just five seconds.
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 600 communications providers like SKY, TalkTalk, Vodafone, and BT, and our fibre broadband network is the biggest in the UK, passing more than 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 and any company can access our products under the same prices, terms and conditions.
For the year ended 31 March 2018, we reported revenues of £5.1bn.
For more information, visit openreach.co.uk