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Fibre broadband for Skye

16 February 2016

The roll-out of high-speed broadband on Skye has started, and more than 3,000 more homes and businesses are the next to be drawn into the new fibre network as work continues on the island.

First services are already available to order in the Kiltragleann estate in Portree, through the island’s first fibre cabinet – these are used to deliver the new high-speed broadband to homes. A new cabinet has also been built in Kyleakin and will come through after testing.

Now the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband (DSSB) project will be building new telecoms and fibre cabinets across the island, and one on Raasay, to bring better broadband to many local villages.

Work is starting on the new infrastructure in Ardvasar, Broadford, Dunvegan, Edinbane, Isle Ornsay, Raasay, Uig and Portree. Services will start to go live during the next six months. More coverage is also coming on the mainland at Kyle of Lochalsh – reaching more than 400 additional premises.

Further roll out and additional coverage is in planning for later in the year for Carbost and Staffin, and in the Skeabost Bridge area.

The roll-out is part of a £146m investment led in the region by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) which is bringing better broadband to thousands of homes and businesses which could not be reached by the private sector's commercial fibre broadband programme.

The project is funded by the Scottish Government, the UK Government, HIE and private sector partner BT, with engineers from BT's local network business Openreach delivering the project on the ground.

Stuart Robertson, Director of Digital at HIE, said: “Building a fibre optic network in Skye opens up access to high speed broadband to many people for the first time. Without the public investment it simply wasn’t viable for the market to bring fibre to many parts of the Highlands.

“In this first phase the DSSB project is taking a huge first step – getting a main core network in place which we can build on into the future and getting as many people as we can linked into it. It is important to note that when it’s available you do have to order – it’s a completely different product from the current broadband service.”

“Working with Digital Scotland partners and Community Broadband Scotland we are looking at the best ways to reach even further. We won’t reach everyone in this first phase, but no one is forgotten. Digital Scotland partners, including our colleagues at Community Broadband Scotland, are looking at where we could reach with an additional phase of roll-out and through community-led projects for those in the hardest to reach areas.”

Customers will be able to check progress and see when they can order by checking their details on the Digital Scotland interactive map

BT Scotland’s fibre broadband director Liz Mallinson said: “This is terrific news for more than 3,000 homes and businesses in eight communities on Skye and one on Raasay. We look forward to building on the progress of the roll-out to date and bringing fast fibre to as many people as possible, as quickly as possible. Fibre broadband enables multiple users at home or in business to connect to online services at faster speeds, whatever you’re doing online.”

Access to the brand new fibre network is available to all service providers on an open wholesale basis.

Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC) technology offers broadband speeds of up to 80 Mbps*. Speed and availablility is dependent on whether a premise is connected to a cabinet and the length of the line between them. As a rule of thumb premises with a line length of less than 1km will see download speeds of more than 24 Mbps, and those up to 2km will see some uplift depending on their current speed. Beyond that distance speeds fall away and you may not see a benefit. This may improve as technology does.

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Stewart WIlliam 18/08/2016

Sanday - where I live - has 'broadband' speeds of UNDER ONE MB - again UNDER 1MB BT IMPROVEMENT PLAN? SIMPLE: No plans - No commitment - No timescales - basically no interest in the island whatsoever. Just hollow words and at minimum another 5 yrs in the digital wilderness by a government who only care in headline and PR and paying hundreds of millions of pounds with not a single penny reaching islands that make up the Orkney Islands. It is so disappointing and insulting to read and listen to the fanfare when you are total ignored and left on the sidelines.

Highlands and Islands Enterprise 22/08/2016

Hi Stewart, I'm really sorry your broadband is slow. We know how frustrating it is and we really are trying to do what we can about it - but it isn't easy. We aren't bragging when we talk about having taken fibre coverage from 4% of premises in the H&Is since 2013, we are highlighting the scale of the job. There was commercial fibre in one small Highland town - nowhere else. Lots of like you on sub 2Mbps. With the available budget we are reaching as many as we can. Digital Scotland partners are already looking at what the next stage of coverage looks like. This includes what additional infrastructure we need to reach more of our northern islands.

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