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Digital network paves the way for e-health revolution

Press release   •   Apr 02, 2019 10:00 BST

Miles Briggs (centre) with fibre engineers Jack McClory (L) and Shaun Scobie (R).

Lothian MSP Miles Briggs – Scotland’s shadow cabinet secretary for health and sport – has joined engineers on the streets of Edinburgh to explore how better broadband could revolutionise e-healthcare.

Openreach is building the next generation of broadband in the city - future-proof, ‘full-fibre’ services at speeds up to 1Gbps* - with more than 30,000 homes and businesses now able to connect.

The new network can carry much higher levels of data, which will support medical advances in areas like remote monitoring and testing and better connecting practitioners with their patients.

Mr Briggs said: “Full-fibre broadband is the future for Scotland and thousands of Lothian residents are at the forefront of that evolution. Policy makers need to understand what greater connectivity means for areas such as the economy, education and, particularly relevant in my sphere, health and social care.

“The whole of the NHS and their patients must be able to access top-quality broadband to allow everyone to make the most of new technology. Rural and urban GPs and pharmacies will be able to better connect to each other, to other professionals and, importantly, their patients.

“Better connectivity will drive advances in remote care, specialist consultation and telemedicine, as well as supporting increasingly sophisticated and secure methods of gathering and analysing data. This will help us to develop and deliver the services we need for the future.”

During his visit Mr Briggs visited a new full-fibre network in Abbeyhill, where he watched a step-by-step demo of how the new technology is installed.

Edinburgh is the first city in Scotland to be included in Openreach’s full-fibre rollout, with work well under way in areas including Abbeyhill, Corstorphine, Roseburn, Gorgie, Haymarket, Murrayfield and Newington. Openreach is also working with local housebuilders to install full-fibre technology into housing developments in places like Balerno, Bonnyrigg, Dalkeith, Niddrie, Penicuik, Rosewell and Straiton.

The company is on track to bring ultrafast services to three million premises by the end of 2020 and, with the right conditions, 10 million by the mid-2020s.

The visit was hosted by James Carsley, Openreach’s fibre network programme director for Scotland, who said: “It was great to show Miles Briggs how we’re building a new, ultrafast broadband network in Edinburgh, but today’s visit was mainly about the ‘so what’ – what it actually means for people.

“Full-fibre will support the advance of new and better e-health services, from the physical monitoring of people in their own homes, reducing hospital admissions, to access to remote consultancy and e-clinics.

“Every day the Openreach network powers vital public services across Scotland. Our investment in full fibre will future-proof Edinburgh’s connectivity for decades, providing a platform where e-health can thrive.”


Notes to editors

*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.

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 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.

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