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More superfast broadband for rural Scotland

13 July 2016

More rural communities are next in line for a high-speed broadband boost from the £410m Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband roll-out.

Upgrades are planned to provide access to the technology to thousands of homes and businesses in small communities such as Crathes in Aberdeenshire, Balmacara in the Highlands, Blair Atholl in Perth and Kinross, Lochinver in NW Sutherland and Carsphairn in Dumfries and Galloway, with the first fibre connections due to go live this winter. Further details for each area can be found at the end of this press release.

More than 600,000 premises across the country can already connect to their fastest-ever broadband speeds through the Digital Scotland roll-out.

They include almost 50,000 premises reached by the roll-out in the last three months, many of which are in rural locations – such as Boarhills in Fife, Dallas in Moray, Schivas in Aberdeenshire, Moscow in East Ayrshire and Killin in Stirling.

The programme is delivered through two projects – led by Highlands and Islands Enterprise in its area and the Scottish Government in the rest of Scotland. Other funding partners include the UK Government through Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK), BT, local authorities and the EU via the European Regional Development Fund.

Around 2,800 new fibre street cabinets are now live across 620 Scottish exchange areas. More than 7,500km of cable has been laid by engineers from Openreach, BT’s local network business – enough to stretch all the way from Glasgow to Kathmandu in Nepal.

Fergus Ewing, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Connectivity, said: “We are now more than half way through the roll-out of the programme and as we progress we are starting to reach very small and more remote communities. Deploying fibre to areas like this is part of the plan that will help ensure that Scotland becomes a world class digital nation by 2020.

“In the months ahead, the programme will continue to advance across the country, bringing high speed broadband to new rural communities, whilst expanding existing coverage in many places that we’ve already reached. The difference that fibre broadband makes is remarkable; whether you work from home, run a small business or are a busy family all wanting to be online at the same time – fibre broadband will make it easier and quicker.”

Coupled with commercial upgrades, more than two million premises across Scotland can now access the higher speeds. Residents need to sign up for a fibre service with their chosen provider, as upgrades aren’t automatic.

UK Digital Economy Minister Ed Vaizey said: "The UK Government wants everyone in Scotland to have fast broadband, which is why we're investing more than £120m to take fibre broadband to as many parts of Scotland as possible. Thanks in part to this UK funding, more than eight out of ten Scottish homes and businesses can now get superfast broadband, and we've reached more than 600,000 premises as part of this project who would otherwise have missed out."

Fibre broadband offers fast and reliable broadband connections at speeds of up to 80Mbps** and there are many suppliers in the marketplace to choose from. It enables multiple users to go online at the same time and speeds up internet services, uploads and downloads.

The Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband programme underpins the Scottish Government’s aim for Scotland to become a world class digital nation by 2020. It will deliver access to fibre broadband to around 95% of premises by the end of March 2018, when combined with existing commercial roll-out plans.

BT is investing £126 million in the two projects, on top of its commercial rollout.

Brendan Dick, BT Scotland Director, said: “The task of bringing high-speed fibre broadband to rural Scotland is a huge technical and logistical challenge for our engineers – on a par with building a new Forth Bridge or Borders Rail Link.

“With a responsibility to deliver value for money, the programme has focused on reaching the most premises possible with the funds currently available. It’s great news that following detailed local surveys, more rural communities are being included today.

“We’ve already seen many engineering innovations in this mammoth project, and there is more to come. We’d encourage people to check regularly for updates as the new network is passing more households and business premises every day.”

Local people can check the interactive map to find out if they can get the service and further information is also available on Twitter @HIEDigital or @ScotSuperfast


*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.

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

The next exchange areas scheduled for fibre rollout in the Highlands and Islands area are:

Argyll & Bute - Achnamara, Cairndow, Crinan, Glenbarr, Kilchrenan, Minard, Southend, Whitehouse

Arran & Cumbrae - Kildonan

Highland - Applecross, Aultbea, Badachro, Balmacara, Bridge of Westfield, Carbost, Dornie, Farr, Forss, Glenelg, Glenshiel, Kinlochbervie, Kinlocheil (Glenfinnan), Latheron, Lochbroom, Lochinver, Morvern, Nigg, Nigg Station, North Erradale, Poyntzfield, Skeabost Bridge, Staffin, Strathy, Stromeferry, Whiteface.

Moray - Ballindalloch, Mulben

Shetland - Bigton, Bixter, North Roe, Ollaberry

Western Isles -  Balallan, Carnan, Gravir, Grogarry, Locheport, Sollas

The next locations scheduled for fibre rollout in the Rest of Scotland area are:

Rest of Scotland
Aberdeenshire  Catterline, Crathes, Eden, Forgue, Whiterashes
Dumfries & Galloway Bentpath, Boreland, Carsphairn, Carrutherstown, Drummore
Falkirk Slamannan
Perth and Kinross Blair Atholl, Glenalmond, Tummel Bridge
Scottish Borders Camptown

Leave a comment

D Wilson 14/07/2016

can you tell me when the A836 Dunnet - Mey area will be connected?

Highlands and Islands Enterprise 20/07/2016

Hi, work is happening in the area over the coming six months. Whether your premise can be reached or not will depend on whether you are close enough to a fibre cabinet. Not everyone will be close enough to see benefit in this first phase of roll-out. See our 'will the fibre network reach me' question in the FAQs for more info.

murdo kennedy 18/07/2016

could you tell me when gravir / marvig will be connected , a lot of selff employed bussiness here per number of homes .

S. Beedles 27/07/2016

Can you tell me when fibre will reach Ness in the Isle of Lewis

Highlands and Islands Enterprise 02/08/2016

Hi, it has taken us a little longer than we had anticipated to go through the network planning process for Ness, but it is progressing. We now have plans for seven cabinets in the area, and currently Openreach is going through planning permission to identify and confirm specific locations. You could expect to see work happening on the ground in the next couple of months.

Eddie Freeman 06/08/2016

A fibre cabinet has been installed on the A833 near Kiltarlity (my house connected to No. 2) but my house along with several others near Foxhole is some 2-3 miles away. Will this distance and the frailty of old copper phone wires be overcome for Broadband?

Highlands and Islands Enterprise 14/08/2016

Hi Eddie, one of the challenges of fibre to the cabinet technology is that speeds do diminish over distance. There is work ongoing to try to improve the technology for longer line lengths so even where there isn't a benefit just now it is worthwhile to draw premises into the network, In addition, as we move towards the end of this first phase of roll-out of fibre, Digital Scotland will be looking again at everyone who can't yet receive superfast speeds. We are looking at ways to extend coverage further in a future project.

B Lane 10/08/2016

Kinlocheil Exchange now in planned upgrade which is super news. Will there be other cabinets installed for communities that are linked to this exchange but are too far away for fibre to make any difference as connection will still be copper?

Highlands and Islands Enterprise 10/08/2016

Hi, in this current phase there will be a cabinet which will provide some coverage to Glenfinnan. We will draw in as many as we can, but it will be localised at this stage. It is quite a challenging area - cabs aren't necessarily effective because of the spread of premises. This is why the community and Community Broadband Scotland developed Locheilnet - it uses wireless to provide coverage. We will be looking at all H&Is areas again as we complete this current roll-out to see who can't get superfast speeds. There will be a future plan to help reach further and boost speeds.

B Lane 10/08/2016

Community Broadband Scotland did not develop Locheilnet, it came on board after setup! As suspected, and suggested two years ago, Locheilnet is now being used as the panacea to the Kinlocheil fibre solution, quite disgraceful really.

Highlands and Islands Enterprise 10/08/2016

Sorry, yes you are quite correct, I should have said the community did develop it and CBS supported the community's efforts with funding. Locheilnet has not meant less mainstream fibre coverage for the area. It has been bringing better broadband to those in the area for a number of years who had limited options for broadband. Moving forward, there are a variety of technologies capable of effectively delivering superfast speeds to customers who live/work in various locations - and a wireless network is one of these. If you'd like to discuss this one of our CBS advisers we would be happy to get in touch. You can email us at

Alex kennedy 10/08/2016

Hi Please can you tell me when Rheanbreck Lairg will be connected. Thanks Alex

Highlands and Islands Enterprise 14/08/2016

Hi Alex, sorry, the planning work for the Lairg exchange area is still ongoing. We don't yet know the precise location of the new infrastructure, and so don't have the detail on who will be drawn in. It is due to go through the process before the end of this year.

Jason 11/08/2016

As a resident of Skaill, Forss - could you tell me when my exchange is likely to be enabled, I appreciate it is in the plan for the next 6 months? I have noticed engineers at the exchange and what looks like a Fibre Cabinet appear recently.

Highlands and Islands Enterprise 14/08/2016

Hi Jason, that's great that work appears to be underway. It can take a wee while to get everything organised as there are many parts to the process. What happens is that fibre comes from the cabinet, the exchange is less relevant for fibre roll-out. What the engineers do is build a telecoms cabinet to draw in as many customers' phone lines as they can, and build a fibre cabinet, link the two together and those drawn in (and close enough to their cabinet) will be able to order the new services. There are a number of steps - re-networking, getting fibre there, powering the cabinet, testing and then getting it onto the databases for the ISPs. it can take a few months. Keep an eye on the checker or on our list on the website to see when the cabinet goes live.

Peggy MacInnes 18/08/2016

When will Doune Carloway go live. I understand it is cabinet 5

Highlands and Islands Enterprise 18/08/2016

great news Peggy - it's in the very final stages. Just has to be commissioned and go onto the databases and you will be able to order. Keep an eye out over the next couple of weeks on the checker at

David Bridge 24/08/2016

i see that the Whitehouse exchange in Kintyre is now included which is excellent news. Do you know when this will be connected? What do I have to do to benefit? (I am with BT for broadband and phone lines.) I am over a mile from the exchange - will I still get a decent speed?

Highlands and Islands Enterprise 29/08/2016

Hi David. Roll-out doesn't come through the exchange buildings themselves - but in the main from new fibre cabinets which BT engineers build. Until the cabinets are planned and built we don't know for sure who will be drawn in, and who we can't yet reach. They are positioned to maximise coverage and the engineers draw in as many premises as they can - within the current budget and technology restraints. For any line drawn into the new cabinet/network, distance will be significant to the speed. Within 1 km customers are likely to see superfast speeds of 24 and above. Up to 2km you may see an increase depending on your current speed, but after that distance the signal diminishes and there may not be a benefit. BT is currently piloting technology to extend this distance further for the future. Roll-out in the area is scheduled for 2016.

Clare Winskill 31/08/2016

Can you tell me how money was spent to lay a water pipe from Broadford to Elgol without laying broadband cable at the same time? We are now told that Elgol will not be connected to high speed broadband. We have woefully slow speed broadband here with speed reducing all the time and frequent loss of broadband altogether!!!

Highlands and Islands Enterprise 01/09/2016

Hi Clare, I'm sorry the broadband in your area is slow. We know how frustrating it is and we are trying to do what we can about it - but it isn't easy. The possibility of laying fibre to Elgol at the same time as the water pipe was looked at - but it didn't offer any saving. In this first phase of roll-out for the region we have had to focus on reaching as many people as possible with the available budget - and I'm afraid your area could not currently be covered. We know everyone wants to be better connected. Digital Scotland partners are already looking at what the next stage looks like. This includes what additional budget, infrastructure and technology is available to reach those who do not yet have access to superfast broadband..

David 21/09/2016

Hi - Brilliant news that the North Erradale Exchange is now included in the fibre roll out. Are there any timescales set out for when this work will be started /completed. I am in the process of signing up for the subsidised satellite broadband scheme, but now debating whether it is still worthwhile progressing this. Many thanks

Highlands and Islands Enterprise 05/10/2016

Hi Dave, yes the project has been able to extend the fibre spine further out along the coast. It is very promising for local communities - having the core network nearby will make it easier in future stages to connect more people in. In the shorter term though (ie hopefully by the end of this year) it will only be a part of Melvaig that will see additional coverage. The project is putting a cabinet in there which will bring services to those connected into it. As funding becomes available we will look to reach more.

David 05/10/2016

Hi there, Firstly many thanks for getting back to me on this. However after looking into this in a bit more detail, and asking neighbours in the surrounding area, as the cabinet hasn't been installed at, or near, the North Erradale exchange as indicated by the map. It has been placed much further out in Melvaig and will only offer fibre to a handful of houses that live within a 2k radius? The largest density of housing, by far, is near the exchange itself. There are therefore at least 30 houses located who will not benefit in the slightest from this new cabinet. Are you able to advise why this location was chosen or the basis behind it (as it remains a bit of a mystery to all concerned)?. Also if it is deemed financially viable to put a cabinet in Melvaig then I am assuming a cabinet will also be put at the exchange where the overriding majority of people live? Grateful for any advice on this

Highlands and Islands Enterprise 05/10/2016

Hi Dave, while we talk about exchange areas - the exchange buildings themselves are irrelevant in fibre roll-out. Fibre broadband comes in two parts - main core fibre highway to deliver the capacity and then new fibre cabinets placed in communities to reach clusters of premises. Where premises have been connected to the Exchange we also have to re-organise their telecoms network to link in with the fibre cab. You are quite right there is a limit to the distance the broadband can travel on phone lines from the cabinet and so we put in as many cabinets as our budget allows in the different villages to reach people. The roll-out to Melvaig is strategically sensible - if we roll the core fibre further it opens up more of the coastline. We know there are additional clustered communities including N Erradale and Big Sand and as additional funding becomes available more cabinets could be built to reach these areas.

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