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Start of high speed fibre broadband roll-out for Great Cumbrae and Arran over next six months

06 November 2015

Work to bring the high-speed fibre broadband services to many homes and businesses in Cumbrae and Arran is underway.

Around 1,300 premises in Millport and almost 2,000 across Arran in the Brodick, Corrie, Lamlash, Lochranza, Shiskine and Whiting Bay areas will be amongst the first to get access to a new network bringing faster broadband speeds.

It’s expected these services, which are being delivered through the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband (DSSB) project will be live during the next six months. More information on additional roll-out will follow in the coming months.

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 could not be reached by the private sector’s commercial fibre broadband programme.

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.

Stuart Robertson, HIE’s Director of Digital, commented: “No commercial roll-out was planned for Cumbrae or Arran and so the project will bring a dramatic change to connectivity on the islands. This first phase has been designed to deliver better broadband to the majority of premises and will be coming in stages during 2016. While the roll-out won’t reach everyone it has 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.”

“As 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 order it though an Internet Service Provider. You can check availability on the Digital Scotland interactive map here.“

Getting fibre to the islands for the first time has been a major engineering project. Subsea cable was laid from Largs to Millport, and for Arran the island was linked to the mainland via two subsea fibre optic cables. These were successfully put in place between Blackwaterfoot and Campbeltown and Corrie and West Kilbride at the end of 2014.

In addition to these subsea cables additional fibre cabling has been laid across the island to get the network ready for Openreach engineers to begin building the local network which brings the services to people’s homes and businesses.

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 smaller, 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 here." 

Follow us on @HIEdigital for updates on latest live areas

Background Information for Arran and Millport.

The list below identifies new areas where we will be building new fibre infrastructure in the coming six months. Others may follow. New areas where work is starting are announced every three months throughout the three year project. A full list of areas where work has started or is live is available here, and there is also a postcode checker where people can check their own telephone or postcode details for an idea of progress.

Arran - Brodick, Corrie, Lamlash, Lochranza, Shiskine, Whiting Bay

Great Cumbrae - Millport

Leave a comment

Dave Payn 07/11/2015

So good old Brodick, Lamlash and Whiting Bay are amongst those to get it first on Arran. What a surprise! They already get the fastest of the limited speeds we currently have. Meanwhile, those in the Southend (Kildonan and Sliddery exchanges) get nothing. Sliddery's speed is on average 0.4 Mbps. Please don't give me this 'It's not commercially viable' nonsense. That is simply not acceptable in this day and age. Decent broadband has become a necessity, not a luxury.

Highlands and Islands Enterprise 09/11/2015

Hi Dave. Thanks for taking the time to get in touch. We agree with you about how important better broadband is to all and that's why we are carrying out the project. Putting in the main fibre cables in for Arran is a game-changer - without it everyone would have been stuck. The project on the ground for the villages is a roll-out, the latest announcement is a heads up for the first ones coming through. There will be more - and this will include coverage within the Sliddery and Kildonan exchange areas. While we won't reach everyone in Arran with the available technology yet - there will be a very high percentage of premises covered in this first phase of roll-out (runs till the end of 2016).

Dave Payn 22/12/2015

You do not really answer my question as to why those who already enjoy the fastest speeds get the upgrade first. The rest of us, even if for a few months, get left further behind. And why is Machrie being ignored?

Highlands and Islands Enterprise 11/01/2016

Hi Dave. Thanks for your comments. The roll-out is not based on who gets what speeds - but is an engineering roll-out. We flow out in stages determined by the engineers and the objective is to reach as many people as possible in each area. I understand your point about some people having 'ok' speeds currently. However, we can't just miss population centres out - this is not just a roll-out for now but is about putting in something which will do folk in years to come. (And which we can build on into the future) Machrie most certainly hasn't been ignored - however, given the numbers of premises and their distance from each other there isn't an easy solution. Digital Scotland partners continue to look at what the best options are for those in harder to reach areas.

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