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First Highlands and Islands publicly funded exchanges live by April 2014

30 July 2013

Following the news from BT that through its commercial rollout fibre broadband is now available in Inverness, Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) says it expects the first exchanges of a multi million pound publicly funded next generation broadband project to go live by April 2014.

The community and economic development agency signed a contract with BT in March which, alongside the telecoms company’s commercial rollout, will bring fibre broadband services to around 84% of the region’s homes.

HIE’s Digital team has been meeting with UK and Scottish politicians to provide information on the project. Details for the public are also on HIE’s website at

Stuart Robertson, HIE’s Director of Digital Highlands and Islands, said: “HIE believes that good digital connectivity will transform the ways in which people live and work in the area, and it will provide a platform for future economic development.

“We want to see faster more reliable speeds available for all and this first phase of rollout takes a giant step by putting in place a fibre network which will bring broadband closer to our communities. Without public sector investment from HIE, the Scottish Government, Broadband Delivery UK and the private investment of BT, fewer than one in four of us could have hoped to receive commercial fibre services.”

Plans for the rollout are well under way. The engineering work is being hailed as the UK’s most complex broadband project ever. BT is to lay more than 800km of fibre cable on land, and 400km more via sub-sea crossings to the area’s islands.

“There are four main programmes of work to make this project happen - putting in the fibre network on land; the sub-sea cabling which is due to go in between May and October next year; the upgrade of over 250 exchanges; and the web of cables which comes from the exchanges to connect communities.

“All this won’t happen overnight, but we will see a series of phased announcements coming out from BT as they roll out the infrastructure - both for their commercial locations and for our project,” said Stuart.

“We expect some information to be available from BT in the autumn on the first exchanges that will be due to go live by April.”

For those interested in making the most of existing or improved broadband services for personal or business use, HIE, with a number of partner organisations, is also running a series of projects to help people get online.

  • The overall aim of the Highlands and Islands Next Generation Broadband Project is to help meet the Broadband targets set out by the European Commission, the UK Government and the Scottish Government.

    By 2020 HIE's ambition is that everyone in the Highlands and Islands is be able to access broadband download speeds of at least 30 Mbps.

    By 2016 we want to have made a significant step towards meeting this target and the aspiration. Under the terms of the project, fibre-based broadband is expected to reach 84 per cent of the region’s premises by the end of 2016, including BT’s commercial deployment. Commercial deployment alone would have reached 21 per cent

    The total value of the project is £146m. The total public contribution is £126.4m with an additional £19.4M coming from BT. The public sector investment of £126.4m is being delivered through the Scottish Government broadband fund, which incorporates funding from Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK), and also includes up to £12m from HIE’s own budget. There is no European funding involved in the initial phase of the project.

    Highlands and Islands Enterprise is an economic and community development agency delivering the Scottish Government’s economic strategy across a region which covers more than half of Scotland.

Leave a comment

Alex Binnie 03/08/2013

Its all very well boasting that Inverness exchange has gone live for superfast broadband but this does include the lines that are EO(Exchange Only) directly connected to the exchange so unless you are connected to a street cabinet you wont get superfast broadband. Quote from an email I received from BT Openreach Our deployment is based on the commercial criteria for each exchange and in turn, how broadband is delivered from the exchange. Unfortunately, as your line is fed directly from the exchange it fails to meet the commercial criteria. This is because the solution to deploy Fibre Broadband to lines connected this way would not provide a return on the investment based on the costs for the construction and on-going running costs.

stuart Harvey 13/09/2013

hi alex I live in Ardersier my Brondabnd come right from the Exchange but we might able to get ADSl 2 need to wait and see

john leckie 02/10/2013

I live in the largest town north of inverness Alness and as far as i can see we are on no plans to get upgraded which seems a bit silly, Surely more homes means more potential profit for greedy corporations like BT, And since we have call centres in the town it must make sense for us to get a upgraded exchange. But as usual sense does not seem to come into it.

JOHN LECKIE 02/10/2013

what's point of commenting when they are not seen

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