Homes and businesses in Argyll and Moray will be able to receive superfast fibre broadband by this summer, as part of a publicly funded rollout being delivered across the Highlands and Islands.
Oban, Taynuilt and Ledaig in Argyll join locations in Cullen, Findhorn, Fochabers, and Forres in Moray in a second round of announcements of places in the region where fibre services will be available.
Services are set to go live by July, and customers who can access fibre broadband could receive speeds of up to 80Mbps*. The areas announced today join the initial eight revealed in October, all of which are set to go live before April.
Hailed as the most ambitious digital infrastructure project in the UK, the £146m Highlands and Islands rural broadband project is being led by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) and delivered by BT. It is being delivered over the next three years and will bring fibre broadband services to around 84% of homes and businesses, reaching the majority of premises in every local authority area.
Funding partners include the Scottish Government, HIE, Department for Culture, Media and Sport, BT and local authorities. The Highlands and Islands rollout forms part of a wider £410m Digital Scotland project and its aim is to deliver fibre broadband to areas which would not have been reached commercially.
Richard Lochhead, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment, said: “Today marks an important milestone for the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband partnership. The scale of the challenge of delivering fibre broadband into rural Scotland is greater than any other part of the UK and indeed, much of Europe.
“It’s fantastic news that many rural communities and businesses, from the Highlands to the Borders, will soon begin to see the benefits of high quality digital connectivity, making them more economically viable in the long term.
“However, this is not the limit of Scotland’s ambition. The Scottish Government’s aim is to deliver world class connectivity by 2020, enabling people across Scotland to connect any time, any place, anywhere using any device.”
The Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband initiative consists of two projects – one covering the Highlands and Islands and the other covering the Rest of Scotland. A national announcement today also includes the first locations to be named for upgrade as part of the Rest of Scotland project (full details below).
In total, more than three quarters of a million homes and business premises are expected to benefit from the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband initiative.
More locations will be announced quarterly for the life of the projects as the fibre network rolls out across Scotland. Further local detail will be provided as plans advance and anyone interested in the rollout can keep up to date at www.scotlandsuperfast.com and at www.hie.co.uk/digital
Stuart Robertson, HIE’s Director of Digital Highlands and Islands, said: “We are delighted to be bringing fibre broadband to homes and businesses which wouldn’t have seen it commercially. The areas announced so far are just the beginning, and BT will announce new areas every quarter for the next three years as the rollout progresses across the region. Whether for business or for social use, high-speed broadband has the capability to transform the way our communities live and work.”
The partnership programme is in addition to BT’s £2.5b UK commercial rollout, which will bring faster fibre broadband within reach of more than 1.4 million Scottish homes and businesses by the end of spring 2014, with nearly 900,000 premises already passed.
In the Highlands and Islands, the rollout has been designed to build out as quickly as possible from the existing commercial infrastructure.
Brendan Dick, director of BT Scotland, said: “Today is a major step forward in a journey that will transform the communications landscape of rural Scotland and help develop prosperous local economies.
“Our engineers have been working hard behind the scenes with colleagues in local and national Government to get us to this point. Planning a project on this scale, to get the very best value for money and maximum coverage, is a phenomenal task.”
The new fibre based network will be open to all communications providers on an equivalent basis. Households and businesses will benefit from a highly competitive market, bringing greater choice and affordable prices from a wide range of service providers.
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey said: “The £100.8 million that the UK Government has provided to Digital Scotland will help take superfast broadband to some of the most remote locations in the country, who would otherwise be left in the digital slow lane. The UK already does more business online than any other European country and widespread access to superfast speeds will provide a welcome boost to the Scottish economy.”
New exchange area Local Authority
Additional coverage in areas which are
included in commercial fibre upgrades Local Authority
*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 be able to access fibre-based broadband at the same point in the roll-out. Further announcements will be made as more areas are able to access the growing fibre infrastructure.
Forward looking plans are subject to change. The expectations reflected in this forward-looking plan are reasonable, but as rollout involves risks and uncertainties, actual results may differ from those expressed or implied.
The Highlands and Islands Broadband project includes the following local authority areas: Highland, Moray, Orkney Islands, Shetland Islands, Eilean Siar (Western Isles), parts of Argyll and Bute and part of North Ayrshire (Islands).
The Rest of Scotland project is being supported through £157.6million public funding including £50 million from BDUK and BT’s private investment of £106.7million.The public funding includes funding from all 27 local authorities in the project area and additional funding from 14 local authorities who are investing around £51 million to increase coverage, meet local priorities and address the digital divide in their areas. Coupled with the investment in the Highlands and Islands region announced earlier in the year, it brings the total investment in fibre broadband in Scotland to more than £410 million.
The Rest of Scotland project area includes the following local authority areas: Aberdeen City, Aberdeenshire, Angus, parts of Argyll & Bute, Clackmannanshire, Dumfries & Galloway, Dundee City, East Ayrshire, East Dunbartonshire, East Lothian, East Renfrewshire, City of Edinburgh, Falkirk, Fife, Glasgow City, Inverclyde, Midlothian, North Ayrshire (apart from the Islands), North Lanarkshire, Perth & Kinross, Renfrewshire, Scottish Borders, South Ayrshire, South Lanarkshire, Stirling, West Dunbartonshire, West Lothian.