Highlands and Islands MSP Rhoda Grant has been out in the field with Openreach engineers to see the progress of high-speed broadband and customer service in the Highlands and Islands.
The MSP also heard about the company’s plans to roll out the next generation of broadband technology – future-proof, full-fibre services capable of carrying speeds up to 1Gbps*.
She visited Inverness telephone exchange and local fibre street cabinets and learned how engineers are working to identify and fix some faults BEFORE they affect people’s services.
She also visited a small deployment of more reliable Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) on the outskirts of the Highland capital and heard about the challenges and benefits of rolling out the technology in local landscapes.
According to the independent website Think Broadband, 79 per cent of premises in the Highlands and Islands are now able to connect to broadband at a speed of 30Mbps and above.
Ms Grant 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 14 per cent of Highland households still only able to get a broadband speed of less than 10Mbps, I’m determined to make sure that progress continues at pace.
“While take-up rates of faster services are higher than average in the Highlands and Islands, I’d encourage 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: “It was interesting to hear about the next generation of full fibre broadband, where the fibre runs directly to people’s homes, and see engineering in action. It’s great to know that Openreach is serving Scotland’s rural communities, and that some Highlands and Islands residents can already enjoy broadband capabilities which are among the best anywhere in the UK, but this remains some distance away for most constituents.”
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 commercial companies.
The Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband partnership rollout has brought fibre broadband to dozens of communities in the Highlands and Islands and includes small deployments of FTTP in areas where it is the best technical solution.
Openreach has also been working with several Highlands and Islands housebuilders to install full fibre technology into housing developments in places like Kirkwall, Oban and Lochgilphead.
The visit was hosted by Fraser Rowberry, Openreach’s service delivery director for Scotland, who 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.
“Rhoda Grant shares our ambition to make sure everybody 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 the Highlands.
”Our engineers are 100 per cent committed to keeping Highland communities connected and we’re recruiting 20 more local trainees to help us deliver Scotland’s fibre future.”
Openreach’s Fibre-to-the-Cabinet footprint, at speeds of up to 80Mbps*, currently passes more than 2.5 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.
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.
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