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 www.hie.co.uk/digital
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.