Borders MP John Lamont has been shadowing Openreach engineers in his constituency to see the progress of high-speed broadband locally.
The MP heard about the next generation of broadband technology – future-proof, ‘full-fibre’ services capable of carrying speeds up to 1Gbps* – and how engineers are using innovative new techniques to bring more reliable, faster broadband to rural communities.
He also saw the inner workings of a local fibre street cabinet and visited a new full-fibre network in Hawick's Elm Grove, where he watched a step-by-step demo of how it’s installed.
According to the independent website Think Broadband, 84 per cent of premises in the constituency are now able to connect to broadband at a speed of 30Mbps and above.
Mr Lamont said: “I’m regularly contacted by constituents about broadband, so it’s been useful to see today at first hand the progress that’s being made.
“Good connectivity is absolutely vital for a strong local economy and, with around 10 per cent of constituency households still only able to get a broadband speed of less than 10Mbps, I’m determined to make sure that progress continues at pace.
“I’d also encourage people to check with their provider whether they can already get a better service, as research from Ofcom shows that many more households could upgrade right now.”
He added: “It was interesting to see engineers in action and hear about plans for full-fibre broadband, where the fibre runs directly to people’s homes.
“Full-fibre is the future for Scotland and, while this ultrafast utopia remains some distance away for most constituents, it’s great to know that some residents can already enjoy broadband capabilities which are among the best anywhere in the UK.”
As well as its commercial investment in 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 upgrade plans by private companies.
The Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband partnership rollout has brought fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) broadband to dozens of Borders communities and includes small deployments of fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) in areas where it is the best technical solution.
Openreach is also working with local housebuilders to install full-fibre technology into housing developments in places like Duns, Eyemouth, Newton St Boswells and Jedburgh.
The visit was hosted by Brendan Dick, Openreach board chair in Scotland, and Steve Wood, the company’s chief engineer for Scotland.
Steve said: “We know good, reliable broadband is really important to local people, and we have made great progress. However, we also appreciate that there’s more work to be done.
“John Lamont shares our ambition to make sure everybody in Scotland has access to a quality broadband service. We appreciate that he was able to make time to come and learn about the challenges, technicalities and benefits of delivering digital technology in his constituency.
“Every day we are serving people, businesses and vital public services, keeping local communities connected – and we’re recruiting more Borders trainees to help us deliver Scotland’s fibre future.”
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.
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