The Moray village of Tomintoul is set to become the highest community in Scotland to be connected to high-speed fibre broadband.
The 18th century village, sitting at 345 metres (1,132 feet), is among 43 places announced today as the next to benefit from the £410m Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband partnership.
The picturesque village’s fibre cabinet will be among the first in the Cairngorms National Park when it is installed later this year by engineers from Openreach, BT’s local network business.
The first connections are expected to go live during summer 2015, bringing speeds of up to 80Mbps*. Aviemore and Grantown, which fall within the boundaries of the national park, are also included in the rollout for the first time.
John Swinney, Deputy First Minister, said: “We are seeing growing momentum in the roll-out of better broadband. The project is developing a high speed fibre network which is changing the face of broadband and helping fulfil the Scottish Government’s commitment to deliver world class connectivity in Scotland by 2020.
“Access to high speed internet services will provide an online boost for the National Park area. It’s perfectly placed to benefit from new commerce, tourism and wildlife-related opportunities, in addition to the everyday benefits for local homes and businesses.”
Duncan Bryden, Convener of the Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA) said: “We are highly delighted to hear that Tomintoul, Aviemore and Grantown are set to benefit from high speed fibre broadband. Access to good communications infrastructure allows our visitors to access information easier and our businesses to operate more effectively.
“Improved connectivity in the Park is a long term goal of the CNPA and 2015 is set to be a big year, we look forward eagerly to other communities in CNP receiving similar benefits in the near future.”
The Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband programme aims to provide fibre broadband infrastructure to areas not covered by the private sector’s commercial deployment. Combined with commercial roll-out plans, around 85 per cent of premises in Scotland will have access to fibre broadband by the end of 2015/16 and 95 per cent by the end of 2017/18.
The initiative consists of two projects – one covering the Highlands and Islands and the other covering the Rest of Scotland. The Cairngorm area is part of the former programme, which is led by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).
Stuart Robertson, Director of Digital Highlands and Islands at HIE, said: “Bringing the project to Tomintoul is literally a high point in the project. Work has already started in the village and it’s great to see fibre based broadband heading here alongside communities in Aviemore and Grantown.
“The roll-out will reach more than four out of five premises across the Highlands and Islands by the end of 2016. It provides easier access to the wide range of opportunities broadband offers – including access to online services, learning, and more efficient ways of working.”
Openreach and the Scottish National Parks authorities have agreed to work together to make sure that fibre and other high-speed technologies are rolled out in ways that protect and enhance the special qualities of Scotland’s finest landscapes.
They have also pledged to explore opportunities to deploy innovative technologies to maximise high-speed coverage while working to conserve the environment.
BT Scotland director Brendan Dick said: “Bringing fibre broadband to our more remote and rural communities is what this project is all about. Tomintoul, in the heart of the Cairngorms National Park, is exactly the kind of place that stands to gain most from modern technology, but also exemplifies the challenges of building infrastructure in Scotland’s unique geography.
“Tourism, agriculture and other rural business sectors are vital to the local economy and I’m certain the arrival of fibre broadband will be completely transformational. As the roll-out continues to expand across the Cairngorms National Park, it will play a significant part in the area’s sustainable economic and social development, and we’re committed to delivering it in ways that protect the unique environmental and scenic qualities.”
Openreach will work closely with the Cairngorms National Park Authority in a number of ways, for instance to make sure that poles and street cabinets are appropriately sited and draw on expert advice and local knowledge about areas that are especially sensitive or where burying cable underground or using existing infrastructure might be appropriate.
Digital Scotland funding partners include the Scottish Government, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, the UK Government through Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK), local authorities and the European Regional Development Fund. BT is investing £126 million in the partnership programme, in addition to its £2.5bn UK commercial rollout.
UK Government Communications Minister Ed Vaizey said: "We are transforming the digital landscape of Scotland and I'm delighted that homes and businesses in Tomintoul are among the next to benefit in our nationwide rollout of superfast broadband.
“A faster and more reliable service will provide a huge boost to Tomintoul's economy and forms a key part of the Government's long term economic plan.”
Fibre broadband enables multiple users in a home or business to access the internet, download and share large files at the same time and more quickly than ever before.
Locations will be announced quarterly for the life of the projects as the fibre network rolls out across Scotland. You can keep up to date with roll-out progress in your area using our interactive map and through Twitter @HIEdigital
*These are the top wholesale speeds available from Openreach to all service providers; speeds offered by service providers may vary.
All forward looking plans are subject to change. The expectations reflected in this forward-looking plan are reasonable, but because our rollout involves risks and uncertainties, actual results may differ from those expressed or implied by these forward-looking plans. *These are the top wholesale speeds available to all service providers; speeds offered by service providers may vary.