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Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband reaches 800,000 premises

Press Release   •   Oct 23, 2017 10:00 BST

Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing and Openreach's Rob Thorburn celebrate Scotland's latest digital progress

More than 800,000 premises across Scotland are now able to connect to fibre broadband thanks to the £428M Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband roll-out.

The programme reached the milestone today meaning that across Scotland more premises than ever before now have fibre broadband available to them.

Places like Appin in Argyll and Bute; Melvich in Caithness; Bargrennan in Dumfries and Galloway; and the rural village of Tillyfourie, Aberdeenshire, are now able to receive fibre broadband for the first time.

Each week, the programme, one of the largest broadband infrastructure projects in Europe reaches more remote and rural areas, passing another 34,000 premises in the last six months.

Across the country around 4,100 new fibre street cabinets are now live and more than 8,700km of cable has been laid by engineers from Openreach, Scotland’s digital network business.

Fibre broadband offers fast and reliable broadband connections at speeds of up to 80Mbps* and there are many suppliers in the marketplace to choose from.

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

Whether you own a business, work from home or want to keep in touch with friends and family, fibre broadband enables multiple users to connect to the internet at high speeds and get better, faster access to online services.

Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing said:

“Fast internet connection is vital to the economic and social wellbeing of our rural communities, supporting businesses and improving lives of local people.

“Last year we made faster progress than any other part of the UK and we are on-track to meet our Programme for Government commitment of 95% coverage by the end of this year.

“However, these upgrades are not automatic. I would encourage more people to check whether they are eligible on the DSSB website and contact a service provider of their choice to start receiving faster broadband.

“I am not complacent - I am aware that those who do not have access are at a disadvantage and our job is not done until everyone is connected. We are now focusing on the next steps to achieve 100% coverage by 2021.”

UK Minister for Digital Matt Hancock said: "I'm delighted that more than 800,000 Scottish homes and businesses have now had their internet speeds boosted as part of our UK wide rollout of superfast broadband. By the end of this year 95 per cent of UK properties will have access to superfast speeds, but more needs to be done to make sure no-one is left behind.

"We know just how important broadband is in the digital age, and we'll continue to support Digital Scotland delivering on the ground so that by 2020 everyone in Scotland, and the rest of the UK, will have access to a fast, reliable and affordable internet connection."

Stuart Robertson from Highlands and Islands Enterprise said: “Fibre access in our region has increased from only 4% of premises when the project started to around 86% today. We’ve reached more homes and businesses than initially planned within the contract, and roll out is continuing partly as a result of strong take-up. There’s further to go, but every place we reach brings the benefits of better connectivity to our Highlands and Islands communities.”

Robert Thorburn, Openreach digital partnership director for Scotland, concluded: “We’re working flat out to bring high-speed fibre broadband to as many Scottish communities and households as possible and we’re continuing to make good progress.

“It’s fantastic to be reaching smaller communities such as Gairloch, Drummore and Ballantrae and it means more people across the country can now order their fastest-ever broadband speeds from a wide range of providers.

“With around a third of homes and businesses having upgraded to fibre so far, there’s plenty of scope for more Scots to benefit from much faster speeds.”

The Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband programme underpins the Scottish Government’s aim for Scotland to become a world class digital nation by 2020. Local people can check the Digital Scotland website to find out if they can get a fibre-based service.

Ends

*These are the top wholesale speeds available 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 specific areas will be able to access fibre-based broadband at the same point in the roll-out.

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.

For further information: https://www.gov.uk/broadband-delivery-uk

About us

Openreach is Britain’s digital network business. That means we connect homes, mobile phone masts, schools, shops, banks, hospitals, libraries, broadcasters, governments and businesses – large and small – to the world. It’s our mission to build the best possible network with the highest quality service, and make sure that everyone in Britain can be connected.

Our 30,400 people work on behalf of more than 580 communications providers like Sky, TalkTalk, Vodafone and BT. Our fibre broadband network is the biggest in the UK, covering more than 26.8 million premises. And our technology is the basis of Britain’s thriving digital economy, which is the largest of the G20 countries.

We’re working hard to give people the broadband speeds they need at work and at home. Over the last decade, we’ve invested more than £11bn into our network. And we now manage more than 158 million kilometres of cable stretching from Scotland to Cornwall, and from Wales to the east coast. But we’re not stopping there – we’re making superfast broadband speeds available to thousands more homes and businesses every week.

We’re owned by BT Group and independently governed. Our business is highly regulated, and more than 90 per cent of our revenue comes from services that are regulated by Ofcom. Any company can access our products under the same prices, terms and conditions.

In the year ending 31 March 2017, we reported revenues of £5.1bn.

To find out more about us and what we do, go to openreach.co.uk.