The first businesses are already benefiting from the new fibre-based broadband services available on the Isle of Arran.
Around 1,900 homes and businesses on Arran can now order the faster services with the first lines enabled in Brodick, Corrie, Lamlash, Lochranza, Shiskine and Whiting Bay.
Additional coverage is expected shortly in Brodick, Corrie, Catacol and Lochranza. Work has started in Pirnhill, Sliddery and Kildonan to bring high-speed broadband to more premises by the end of the year as part of the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband (DSSB) programme. Already, nearly 60 per cent of the island can access the faster services and by the end of the year this will rise to 90 per cent.
The project, led in parts of North Ayrshire by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), is bringing better broadband to thousands of homes and businesses which were not included in the private sector’s commercial plans. The coverage forms part of a three year £146m investment, funded by the Scottish Government, the UK Government, HIE and private sector partner BT, with engineers from Openreach, BT’s local network business, delivering the project on the ground.
One of the first businesses to benefit from the programme is Arran Graphics, a design and printing firm based in Brodick, which has just placed an order for fibre-based broadband.
Its director, Graham Chappell, looks forward to his broadband connection being upgraded. He said: “As a company which designs all manner of publications and printed merchandise for clients, sending large files to suppliers around the world for printing, having faster upload speeds is important to my business. Previously, sending large files could take overnight or I might have delivered an external drive with the files. Now I’ll be able to quickly upload them online in minutes or just a few seconds.”
Stuart Robertson, HIE’s director of digital, in Arran for a meeting of the Arran Economic Group, said: “It’s great to see the first businesses on Arran benefiting from the project which is bringing dramatic change to connectivity on the island. Businesses in sectors such as tourism and business services can use fast internet connections to meet the demands of their customers and improve their own productivity. While the roll-out won’t reach everyone, it’s been designed to reach as many people as possible. We maximise coverage at every stage and we are looking at how to get the best possible service to those in harder to reach areas.
“HIE has also recently announced further investment to ensure the region’s tourism businesses maximise the benefits from a new £1.2m Digital Tourism Scotland (DTS) programme.
“As the fibre broadband roll-out reaches our communities it’s important to stress people aren’t upgraded automatically. If you want a fibre-based service you have to contact your Service Provider. You can check availability on the interactive map at www.hie.co.uk/digital.“
The major engineering work to connect Arran to fibre broadband started with an ambitious subsea project in 2014. The island is now linked to the mainland via two submarine fibre optic cables. They lie between Blackwaterfoot and Campbeltown and Corrie and West Kilbride. This subsea work enabled the land-based engineering work to start on the island, which is ongoing.
Brendan Dick, BT Scotland director, said: “Combined with BT’s commercial coverage, more than 1.9 million homes and businesses can now connect to faster fibre-based broadband across Scotland. These faster connections are being delivered by the use of complex and innovative engineering solutions to reach the smallest, most remote communities, which are already benefiting from the rollout. We’ll continue to work with our partners to bring faster broadband to as many people as possible, and as quickly as we can.
“BT is determined to make sure that Scotland remains at the forefront of the high-speed digital revolution and supports ambitions to increase the country’s productivity. We’re proud to be working hand in hand with our partners to deliver a truly Digital Scotland."