It’s full speed ahead for online business today (Thursday 27 March) as fibre broadband rolls out at one of Inverness’ busiest trade and industrial sites.
Businesses from the Carse Industrial Estate are celebrating the news that they are amongst the first premises to benefit from publicly funded broadband rollout. Representatives this week gathered at local social enterprise New Start Highland to mark the first services going live.
They were joined by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) which leads on the £146m fibre broadband project for the region, by BT which is delivering it and by The Highland Council Leader Drew Hendry and Chairman of Planning, Environment and Development Committee Thomas Prag.
The businesses and homes at the Carse are amongst 3,500 properties which are now taking orders across Inverness, Culloden, Smithton and Milton of Leys delivered through phase one the project. This number will rise to more than 5,000 over the coming weeks as BT engineers continue to upgrade local cabinets.
Work has also started on the Fortrose and Ardersier cabinets.
Local businesses have welcomed the news. James Dunbar, CEO of New Start said: “As New Start Highland continues to develop and deliver transformational services across the Highlands our need for connectivity continually increases. Access to superfast broadband will further support New Start Highland’s ability to grow, enabling us to use the latest technology available.”
The Highlands and Islands rural broadband project has been hailed as one of the most ambitious in the UK. Fibre rollout taking place across the UK commercially would have reached no more than one in five premises in the Highlands and Islands. The project aims to achieve 84% coverage of the region’s homes and businesses and the project includes installing 20 subsea cables to island communities.
Stuart Robertson, HIE’s director of Digital Highlands and Islands, said: “There are already thousands of premises in Inverness which can now order superfast broadband through their internet providers as a result of the BT commercial rollout. Through our project we have been able to extend that to thousands more who would not have been covered otherwise. Over the next three years we aim to bring faster, more reliable services closer to as many people as possible right across our region.
“We are delighted to see the first cabinets go live and for some of our communities, including those on the outskirts of Inverness, we are seeing connection speeds soar from less than 1 mbps to anything up to 80mpbs*. The opportunities this presents to our businesses and communities is huge, changing everything from how we do business to how we deliver and use public services.”
Research points to significant benefits for job creation and economic stimulation. Over 15 years, figures indicate that fibre broadband could boost the economy of a typical town by £143 million, as well as creating hundreds of jobs.
The Highland Council Leader Drew Hendry commented: “Superfast broadband has the potential to be a real game changer for the Highlands providing high speed internet access for individuals, communities and businesses. It's appropriate that the first cabinet to go live is next to one of Scotland's leading social enterprises, New Start Highland which supports unemployed people back into work. Superfast broadband will be even more significant for our rural areas and we aim to ensure as wide coverage as possible over the coming rollout.”
Brendan Dick, BT Scotland director, said: “This is great news for businesses and people living in the Highland Capital and its environs. The new upgrades delivered by this partnership, aligned with BT’s own commercial roll-out, mean that more than 20,000 homes and businesses in and around Inverness can now access the benefits this new technology brings. It’s exciting to see the Highlands and Islands as the focus of one of the largest civil engineering projects in Europe – a project which will boost local economies and transform the region’s communications landscape over the next three years.”
A partnership between HIE, Citizens Online and Business Gateway is working with businesses and communities across the region to maximise the impact of online activity. Advice, workshops and Digital Health checks have already supported hundreds of people across the region.
* These are the top wholesale speeds available from Openreach to all service providers; speeds offered by service providers may vary. Due to the current network topography, and the economics of deployment, it is likely that some premises within selected exchange areas will not initially be able to access fibre-based broadband. Alternative solutions for these locations are being investigated.
Businesses who took part in the event marking the rollout of superfast broadband are:
Highlands and Islands Enterprise
Office: 01463 244238
Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) is an economic and community development agency delivering the Scottish Government’s economic strategy across a region which covers more than half of Scotland.
With around 250 staff, HIE supports hundreds of client businesses and social enterprises; strengthens communities, particularly in fragile areas; develops key sectors, and invests in infrastructure to create a more competitive and low carbon region.
Our priority sectors for growth include Energy, Life Sciences, Food and Drink, Creative Industries, Tourism, Financial and Business Services and Universities.
Superfast Britain is a 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:
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: www.gov.uk/broadband-delivery-uk
BT is one of the world’s leading providers of communications services and solutions, serving customers in more than 170 countries. Its principal activities include the provision of networked IT services globally; local, national and international telecommunications services to its customers for use at home, at work and on the move; broadband, TV and internet products and services; and converged fixed/mobile products and services. BT consists principally of four lines of business: BT Global Services, BT Retail, BT Wholesale and Openreach.
For the year ended 31 March 2013, BT Group’s reported revenue was £18,103m with reported profit before taxation of £2,315m.
British Telecommunications plc (BT) is a wholly-owned subsidiary of BT Group plc and encompasses virtually all businesses and assets of the BT Group. BT Group plc is listed on stock exchanges in London and New York.
For more information, visit www.btplc.com