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More homes across Outer Hebrides set for a superfast broadband boost

06 November 2015

The roll-out of fibre based broadband on the Outer Hebrides is reaching out further to Harris, Scalpay and N Uist over the next six months.

The Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband (DSSB) project is progressing ahead of schedule with parts of Back and Barvas already able to order the new high speed services. Additional connections will start coming through for some in Point and Shawbost within weeks.

Work will continue in these areas and the partnership project being led for the region by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) is reaching out further between now and the Spring to places including Ness, Callanish, Leverburgh, Lochmaddy and Scalpay. (See full list below)

This stage will draw in a further 2,000 homes and businesses to the new network. Many will see connections available by the Spring.

Stuart Robertson, Director of Digital at HIE, said: “People have been quick to embrace the arrival of fibre based broadband in the Stornoway area. It’s great that we are pushing ahead of schedule to reach other areas of the islands.”

Fibre broadband enables multiple users in a home or business to access the internet, download and share large files at the same time at download speeds of up to 80 Mbps and upload speeds of up to 20 Mbps*. As the higher speeds become available, anyone interested in signing up for fibre-based services should contact their broadband service provider.

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 BT’s local network business Openreach delivering the project on the ground.

Brendan Dick, BT Scotland director, said: “The Digital Scotland rollout has now passed more than half the homes and business premises currently included in our plans for the Highlands and Islands and it’s fantastic that our engineers are now reaching into some very small, rural communities, which have so much to gain.

“We’ll continue to work hard to maintain the great progress to date and bring fast fibre to as many people as possible, as quickly as possible.

“BT is determined to make sure that Scotland remains at the forefront of the high-speed digital revolution. We’re proud to be working hand in hand with our partners to deliver a truly Digital Scotland. Everyone can keep up to speed with the latest developments at .”

Follow @HIEdigital on Twitter for the latest live areas

*These are the top wholesale speeds available from Openreach to all service providers; speeds offered by service providers may vary.

Outer Hebrides – latest work is happening in the following exchange areas in the next six months -
Balallan, Berneray, Borve, Callanish, Carloway, Crossbost, Garrabost (Point), Harris (Tarbert), Leverburgh, Lochmaddy, North Tolsta, Port Of Ness (Ness), Scalpay, Shawbost

Due to the current network topography and the economics of deployment, it is likely that not all premises within selected areas will be able to access fibre-based broadband. Cabinets also may be delivered at different times.

Our deployment plans are subject to change. The expectations reflected in this plan are reasonable, but because our rollout involves risks and uncertainties, actual results may differ from those expressed or implied.

Leave a comment

AK 15/11/2015

It would be helpful if HIE communicated the whole rollout plan, and more importantly who will not be included this time round, and when those missing out can expect to be upgraded.

Highlands and Islands Enterprise 16/11/2015

Thanks for getting in touch. The interactive map outlines the current areas where the roll-out is scheduled for phase one (until the end of 2016), and those where we are still looking for solutions. We are constantly looking for ways to maximise the numbers of people we reach. In the Hebrides we are going from 0 with access to NGB to at least 7 out of 10 premises in this first phase. We know there will be some places which can't be reached. They aren't forgotten. There are a few who may be connected to the new technology, but be too far to get the benefit (as technology improves the distance covered may grow from the current 2km limits). Others may be out of reach of the current roll-out. When can they expect help? We are already scoping out how potential phase 2 funding may help us reach further. For those where the main roll-out 'fibre to the cabinet' technology isn't going to be a solution, HIE, Community Broadband Scotland colleagues and others are working on what options there may be available. We will push on as quickly as we can and we want to keep as many options as possible on the table to get the best long term result within the budgets and technical capabilities available.

Neil MacLean 16/11/2015

As I have already asked in another news article, which you chose to ignore, could you be so good as to tell us, the general population, why you choose to start the rollout only in Stornoway and not from both locations where the fibre made landfall in the Hebrides? It is ironic that although much is made of the economic advantages of superfast broadband, instead of rolling it out where it is most needed you choose to start with Stornoway and leave the most economically deprived areas of the Hebrides until last. Would you be so good as to explain the reasoning please!

Highlands and Islands Enterprise 17/11/2015

Hi Neil, sorry perhaps you missed our reply - do please have a look at your original post.The engineering project across the whole of the Highlands and Islands is designed to reach the most people possible, as quickly as possible in the most efficient way to get value from the public investment. We haven't made decisions based on who we think deserves it most - we think everyone deserves the advantages of better broadband. It is a roll-out - so the plan in each area is based on reaching out from key network points. Just as we are ahead of schedule in reaching communities in Lewis like Coll, Shawbost and Vatisker we are also ahead elsewhere across the network. We've started work at Lochmaddy, at Scalpay and for Tarbert on Harris. We know it's difficult when your community is scheduled for a little later in the roll-out - we're going as quickly as we can. It's a pretty big job taking coverage from no one on the Hebrides to more than 7 premises out of 10 by the end of next year. It will take a bit of time.

Neil MacLean 19/11/2015

Thank you for your reply which still failed to address the question: why is the rollout not commencing from both fibre landfall locations?

Highlands and Islands Enterprise 20/11/2015

Hi Neil. Stornoway was scheduled for 2015 because of the population numbers – the other landfall site was scheduled for activation in 2016 and that’s when it will happen. I'm afraid we can't be everywhere at once.

Mrs Karen Hogg 22/12/2015

When will North Tolsta be connected because my current provider Connected Communities are switching off at the end of January

Highlands and Islands Enterprise 11/01/2016

Hi Karen, N Tolsta now taking orders. If you have any problems be in touch at

Chris MacDonald 06/03/2016

Do you have any update on the Crossbost exchange, from the earliest proposals Crossbost featured on the list, in the press releases of July last year we were told that Crossbost was scheduled for faster speeds before the year end. It is now no longer mentioned and the BT Openreach site does not even have it listed as "in scope" as part of the fibre upgrade plan.

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