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Scotland’s first publicly-funded fibre broadband services to be in Inverness-shire and Moray

15 October 2013

The first eight areas which will go live in Scotland as part of a multi-million pound publicly-funded fibre broadband project are being announced today (Tuesday 15 October) in the Highlands and Islands.

Representatives of the partnership funding the £146m rollout were in Milton of Leys in Inverness to mark the milestone for a project which, together with BT’s commercial rollout, will ultimately bring faster broadband to around 84% of the region’s premises.

More than 16,000 homes and businesses on the outskirts of the Highland capital Inverness, and along the coast into Moray, will be the first to benefit.

Ardersier, Buckie, Milton of Leys, Fortrose, Hopeman, Inverness Culloden, Lhanbryde and Lossiemouth areas will be amongst the first to be able to access fibre broadband services, which provide speeds of up to 80Mbps*, from early 2014.

At the same time, Inverness Macdhui exchange, which is currently being upgraded as part of BT’s £2.5 billion commercial rollout, and Elgin, which is set for upgrade next year, are to have their fibre footprints extended. 

Hailed as one of the most ambitious infrastructure projects in Scotland’s recent history, the Highlands and Islands rural broadband project is being led by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) and delivered by BT.  It is funded by the Scottish Government, Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK), HIE and BT.

Stuart Robertson, HIE’s Director of Digital Highlands and Islands, said: “This is by far the most challenging rural broadband rollout in the UK and we are delighted that our first communities will be accessing services within months.

“Commercial rollout taking place across the UK would have reached no more than one in five premises in the Highlands and Islands. So the project’s target of 84% coverage levels for the region will represent a significant step change.

“This first rollout of fibre broadband will be available to customers who are connected to a number of street cabinets within the eight exchange areas. Homes and businesses will be able to check availability over the coming weeks and there will be further work carried out in these areas to extend the reach as the rollout progresses.”

The announcement is the first in a series of updates which will be made quarterly for the life of the project as the fibre network rolls out across the region. Anyone interested in superfast broadband rollout can keep up to date on a new Scotland wide website www.scotlandsuperfast.com being introduced by the Scottish Government.

Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs Richard Lochhead said: “The Scottish Government is determined to ensure that all communities can benefit from the opportunities of the digital age. This is demonstrated by our substantial investment - totalling about £64 million - in this infrastructure project, which is one of the most ambitious in Scotland’s history. I am delighted to see rural communities and businesses beginning to enjoy the benefits from this high quality digital connectivity which will be critical in ensuring the long-term economic prosperity of the Highlands and Islands.”

The Secretary of State for Scotland, Alistair Carmichael said: “The UK Government has contributed £50 million to make sure all families, communities and businesses in the Highlands and Islands have access to a high quality, fast broadband service and Highland and Islands Enterprise’s announcement today marks a significant step towards this goal.

“Broadband is vital for jobs, services and the economy in the Highlands and Islands so I’m pleased to see this investment in rural broadband in Scotland is starting to come to fruition as the first exchanges go live around Inverness and along the Moray coast.”

BT is to lay more than 800km of fibre backbone cable on land, and 400km more via 20 subsea crossings as part of the project.

Brendan Dick, Director, BT Scotland, said: “Today’s announcement means that early next year access to fibre broadband will be available to more than 14,400 homes and businesses around Ardersier, Buckie, Culloden,  Milton of Leys, Fortrose, Hopeman, Lhanbryde and Lossiemouth, along with an additional 1,825 in Elgin and on the Inverness Macdhui exchange.

“This exciting technology will play a vital part in the area’s future success. It is crucial if local businesses are to continue to thrive in a competitive environment. Improved communications enhance businesses, helping them develop and generate more recruitment opportunities. Fibre broadband is also a huge boost for local households whether they use the internet for on-line training and development, shopping or entertainment.”

* These are the top wholesale speeds available from Openreach to all service providers; speeds offered by service providers may vary. Due to the current network topography, and the economics of deployment, it is likely that some premises within selected exchange areas will not initially be able to access fibre-based broadband. Alternative solutions for these locations are being investigated.

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

    By 2020 HIE’s ambition is that everyone in the Highlands and Islands is 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%. 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.

    For further information, visit www.hie.co.uk/digital
  • About BDUK

    Superfast Britain is a Government programme of investment in broadband and communication infrastructure across the UK. Run by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, this investment helps businesses to grow, creates jobs and will make Britain more competitive in the global race.  The portfolio is comprised of three elements: 

    •             £780m to extend superfast broadband to 95% of the UK by 2017

    •             £150m to provide high speed broadband to businesses in 22 cities

    •             £150m to improve quality and coverage of mobile phone and basic data network services

    Administered on behalf of Government by Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK), Superfast Britain is transforming Britain by promoting growth, enabling skills and learning, and improving quality of life.

    For further information: https://www.gov.uk/broadband-delivery-uk

Leave a comment

 
Walkhighlands 15/10/2013

This is great news for the communities in Moray and Inverness-shire that are getting the fibre service. Unfortunately still no news on improving broadband in areas that have much slower connections. Our base in Cromdale still gets only 0.7MB - much, much slower than any of the areas now getting improvements. Our business is 100% internet based - getting proper broadband access is critical. Will businesses like ours be left even further behind?

peter r jones 15/10/2013

The Public Accounts Cttee. recently stated that 100% coverage could have been achieved at less cost than the current (inadequate and costly) scheme. 95% coverage leaves thousands in limbo and is not acceptable. Meanwhile communities are having to go it alone with their own schemes.

Harry Cooksley 15/10/2013

Will the new fibre optic broadband be available in Findhorn?

John Lambert 16/10/2013

Wonderful news for all those areas listed as being at the front of this new roll out and exciting initiative. For those of us less fortunate who still languish in areas with very poor connectivity even after the last Government initiative. We remain dependant on wireless and dish links which are unreliable and as proved slower in some cases than the old telephone link supplied to the Islands. Would HIE consider a life line to business's like mine from their vast resources to subsidies a satellite dish connection untill such time as we get to join the wonders of a fast fibre optic connection in the years to come. Easter Kinkell whilst within sight of Dingwall remains an isolated pocket with poor broadband connectivity. AVANTI and Qstat have failed to deliver from the last Government initiative and yet I am sure have banked substantial amounts of Government funds on the back of being able with a wink to say "Job done Minister!"

Stuart Harvey 18/10/2013

that good to hear cant wait tell start of next year

Highlands and Islands Enterprise 29/10/2013

This is the first of quarterly announcements which will bring more detailed information to our communities across the region as the rollout progresses. We know reliable services are important to people and that is why we are trying to build a fibre network which will bring services closer to everyone. Given our geography, and that existing fibre is limited, the job in the Highlands and Islands is bigger than in many other areas, and will take time to deliver. In developing and managing the procurement, HIE has sought to ensure that it's not just the easiest to reach areas which get coverage. The rollout plan has been developed with awareness of the importance of key areas such as Enterprise Areas and Areas of Employment Deficit, the desire to maximise the numbers reached while ensuring equitable coverage across all our local authority areas, and the need to achieve value for money. The rollout timetable is designed to build out as quickly as possible from existing "next generation capable" infrastructure - including the Inner Moray Firth, Fort William and Oban where BT has invested in commercial rollout - while at the same time planning and implementing the significant backhaul and exchange upgrades required to improve the infrastructure across the region.

Neil 04/12/2013

When will FTTC availablity for Ardesier show up on the line checkers? I've seen lots of Openreach vans and engineers working in the area but the line checkers still say only ADSL max is available with no date for when FTTC will be available.

gordon 23/12/2013

There's been no updates as too when we'll get fibre yet?

Highlands and Islands Enterprise 24/12/2013

We recommend you register interest in Fibre services with your current Internet Service Provider, who will keep you informed of when additional services may be available to you specifically. A postcode checker can be found on the Openreach website http://www.superfast-openreach.co.uk/where-and-when/ where BT will provide the latest Exchange Rollout information. Our full Programme taking us to Dec 2016 can be found www.scotlandsuperfast.com. Currently in the Highlands and Islands; only Dingwall, Inverness Nairn and Elgin provide fibre services, but over the course of the next 3 years more than 250 Exchanges will be enabled with our the first publicly funded exchanges due to be go live by March 2014. Watch out for local advertising and mailshot material in your community.

Neil 16/01/2014

My cabinet (cabinet 1 on Ardersier exchange) has a lovely new fibre cabinet standing next to it. Yet when I check on the BT Wholesale checker there isn't even an estimated date as to when fibre will be available. When will the line checkers be updated to show availability dates and estimated speeds?

Marcus Tufaces 04/02/2015

Hi Neil. Amazing your post is now over 12 months ago and we are still waiting. What a waste of time this whole project is.

Highlands and Islands Enterprise 04/02/2015

Those connected to the cabinet at the airport in Ardersier can get services. In the village people have been connected to the exchange for their telecoms. This means we have had to build new cabinets - this always takes a wee while longer. We are waiting for them to be powered and tested and then they will be available to customers.

Rev Andrew Robertson 31/07/2014

Now end of July - still waiting and BT unable to advise a role out date in Lhanbryde. In meantime BT unable to issue new non fibre broadband service of any kind to either themselves or any other broadband company. Very disappointing and frustrating - but what we have come to expect

Marcus Tufaces 04/02/2015

Given it's now 2015 is there any clarity when this will actually happen? Ardersier was meant to be one of the first places in "early 2014". One year on and we are still waiting. What a waste of money.

Highlands and Islands Enterprise 04/02/2015

Customers in Ardersier attached to the airport cab cab get services. We've replied to your post above re the village Marcus. Sorry it's taking time. We have reached 47,500 premises so far. The project will bring access to fibre based broadband to around 150,000 Highlands and Islands premises which wouldn't have seen it without the public investment.

marcus 13/02/2015

Thanks for taking the time to reply. Please can you give a date when services will be available. Assuming you know...?

marcus 15/03/2015

Another month. Nothing.

David 11/07/2015

It's great to here that many people of the highlands are benefiting for the upgraded internet speeds. I live in inverness and I have suffered the slow speeds since I can remember. I currently get around 1.2mb speed which I feel is extremely restricting. I live on the same road as the drummossie hotel is located. I have seen the BT Vans upgrading the connections at the top of the hill at the Milton of leys entrance and also at the bottom of the hill in cradelhall. Are there plans to upgrade my road to give myself and neighbours he benefit of faster speed internet?

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