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Superfast broadband in Kirkwall and further Orkney Islands roll-out announced

03 February 2015

More than 1,200 homes and businesses in Kirkwall in the Orkney Islands can now order next generation fibre broadband thanks to the Digital Scotland public-private partnership.

This is just the start of roll-out for Orkney, with services coming soon for around another 550 premises in the town. And partner representatives are in Kirkwall to announce work during the next six months will connect more people in Kirkwall, plus other areas across the mainland and into Burray and S Ronaldsay.

BT engineers will be building local networks to bring fibre broadband to areas in Burray, Deerness, Evie, Finstown, Harray, Holm, and St. Margaret's Hope. As already announced work will continue for Stromness.

Highlands and Islands Enterprise’s Director of Digital, Stuart Robertson  and Director of BT Scotland, Brendan Dick were joined by MSP Liam McArthur and Steven Heddle,  Convener of Orkney Islands Council at the Cromwell Drive area near the harbour  – one of the areas already taking orders for fibre based broadband with speeds up to 80Mbps*.

Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) is leading on the £146m partnership investment for the region which is bringing better broadband to rural communities. Funded by the Scottish Government, Broadband Delivery UK, HIE itself and private partners BT, the project is set to increase access to fibre based services from the 21% which would have seen rollout commercially to 84% of premises in the Highlands and Islands.

John Swinney, Deputy First Minister, said: “We are seeing growing momentum in the roll-out of better broadband. Homes and businesses in rural communities from Orkney and Shetland to Dumfries-shire are already able to order.  The project is developing a high speed fibre network which is changing the face of broadband and helping fulfil the Scottish Government’s commitment to deliver world class connectivity in Scotland by 2020.

“We’re reaching out to those who would not have been covered through the commercial market - in cities, in towns and into some of our most rural areas. The connections will bring benefits to the Scottish people at home and in business.”

Stuart Robertson, Director of Digital at HIE, said: “With each step we bring fibre closer to communities which could not have hoped to receive it without this investment. In Orkney today we are announcing that 1200 Kirkwall premises can now order fibre based broadband, with more coming soon.

“Work will continue for Stromness, which has previously been announced, and move on to St Margaret’s Hope, Deerness, Evie and others to reach more than 2,500 further homes. The project is changing the future of digital access for the Orkney Islands.”

Steven Heddle, Orkney Islands Council Convener, said: “We welcome the arrival of next generation fibre based broadband to Kirkwall. This will be the first area in Orkney to receive this service, and we’re heartened by the news that BT are currently working on more exchanges throughout the Orkney mainland, to increase coverage throughout this summer.

“However it’s vital that work does not stop here – we hope that future programmes will help further close the digital divide in Scotland, which in Orkney is most severely felt in our island communities.”
The announcement forms part of a national roll-out announcement which will also see the first Argyll islands, the Outer Hebrides and the first locations in the Cairngorms National Park connected. See a full list of roll-out below.

Around 217,000 homes and businesses are already able to get better connected across Scotland thanks to the Scotland £410m Digital Scotland partnership.  Made up of two projects, one for the Highlands and islands and one for the rest of Scotland, both are being delivered on the ground by BT, which is investing £126m in the programme.

Brendan Dick, director of BT Scotland, said: “This is a tremendous day for the people of Orkney. Access to fibre broadband will transform the route to market for local businesses and strengthen the economy of the islands.
This exciting technology will bring social and economic benefits to our islands and we’re making great headway, with the service now live on Orkney and Shetland ahead of schedule, and the Western Isles, Mull and Bute poised to follow in their wake.”

In total, more than three quarters of a million Scottish homes and business premises are expected to benefit from the initiative.

UK Government Communications Minister Ed Vaizey said: “Our nationwide rollout of superfast broadband continues at pace and it's fantastic to see the huge progress made in Scotland to date.

“Today's announcement of the next 43 places in Scotland to benefit from our investment will see another 54,000 more homes and businesses join the 216,000 properties we've already reached. This huge boost to connectivity is a key part of the Government's long term economic plan and we're on track to reach 95 per cent of the UK by 2017."

Fibre broadband enables multiple users in a home or business to access the internet, download and share large files at the same time and more quickly than ever before. As the higher speeds become available, anyone interested in signing up for fibre-based services should contact their service provider.

Users can check the interactive map  to find out if they can get the service and further information is also available on Twitter @HIEdigital

*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.

All forward looking plans are subject to change. The expectations reflected in this forward-looking plan are reasonable, but because our rollout involves risks and uncertainties, actual results may differ from those expressed or implied by these forward-looking plans.

Leave a comment

william moody 07/02/2015

Hi i see we have this now but on your site when i put my postcode in it says am on EO (Exchange Only) line post code is kw15 1qa so i take it we wont get this then?

Highlands and Islands Enterprise 10/02/2015

Hi William, we use cabinets to get the services to people and in the first phase of roll-out we use the ones which already exist. We will be coming back to Kirkwall this year to build new street cabinets. The majority of people on EO lines in Kirkwall will be able to connect into the new fibre network.

kevin macnicol 12/02/2015

the n is missing of your link so will not work, it should read

Highlands and Islands Enterprise 13/02/2015

thanks Kevin, always good when the digital team can get their links right :)

Chester 22/02/2015

The roll out plans says that fibre will be rolled out in St. Maragrets Hope. I live in KW17 2TH, is my postcode going to be included? I have an EO line, according to Digital Scotland's map

Nick Beal 26/02/2016

As usual, no mention of the islands. Nice to know I will be able to look across the short stretch of water to Evie who, lucky them, are getting decent broadband and know that we are unlikely to benefit in the same way. What about the islands? If anything, it is more important for the more isolated populations to have credible communications, both broadband and mobile coverage.

Highlands and Islands Enterprise 26/02/2016

Hi Nick, if you go to the interactive map it gives you an idea of where the project is currently working in the Orkney Islands in phase 1. For instance roll-out build work has started for Westray. Where the main roll-out technology isn't going to reach folk Community Broadband Scotland is also already working with Orkney communities on a potential project to reach up to 500 more premises.

Jeff 25/04/2016

Sanday KW17 ?

Highlands and Islands Enterprise 25/04/2016

Hi Jeff, Sanday is not part of the first phase of Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband fibre roll-out for Orkney (this runs until the end of 2016). Digital Scotland partners are looking at how we might reach further with additional public funding, and what technologies we could use to do this - be this fixed cabling or wireless. HIE and Community Broadband Scotland are keeping in contact with the Sanday Development Trust to try to keep the community updated on progress. I'm afraid it will take some time. If your current speed is below 2Mbps download you may wish to apply to the national scheme offering financial assistance towards the set-up costs of a satellite system

Jeff Duncan 17/11/2016

Sanday and other Northern Isles can not even hope for broadband speeds of higher than 0.5mb downloads with frequent drop outs and loss of 'service' (call it a service stretches the meaning of the word) Will scotgov and BT continue to ignore many of the Northern Isles?

Highlands and Islands Enterprise 18/11/2016

Hi Jeff, no where is forgotten or ignored, but we couldn't reach everyone yet. This phase of roll-out is reaching more than 7 out of 10 Shetland homes for the first time with mainstream fibre services. Digital Scotland is already looking at how to reach further in a future phase of roll-out. As mentioned above there is a national satellite scheme for those in the immediate term who want to access satellite services.

Jeff Duncan 20/11/2016

Thank you for your reply. Sadly, hearing about the 7 out of 10 properties in Shetland receiving broadband does nothing for those in the Northern (Orkney) Isles where no broadband exists for some - ourselves included. The National Satellite scheme has not served us at all. Avonline, the only real option for service, will NOT install the equipment at discount or for free, saying that our location is too remote and too expensive for them to send an engineer to install. All they are prepared to do is send the equipment and you are then left on your own to have it installed!! So to summarise the dire current situation for some of the Northern Isles 1. Currently no plan exists (that residents are aware of) which gives them any hope for fibre broadband. 2. National Satellite scheme is sadly of no use to those in very remote areas 3. Mobile phone signal is next to non-existant - despite a 4G transmitter in place now at the southern half of Sanday it does nothing to improve/provide a working signal in the Northern half of the island 4. BT quoted £30k for a phone line install! 5. Even if we were prepared to line the pockets of the shareholders to that tune we could not get any BT broadband as we are too far from exchange (which probably most people are on Sanday!) 6. Businesses are pretty much dead in water unless they can afford to pay Avonline hundreds of pounds each month for a service which provides robust enough broadband to run VOIP and Skype - given the lack of other comms these are prerequisites As you can perhaps imagine if you live in one of the areas where no broadband or mobile phone signal exists hearing the trumpets of progress in other islands is depressing when you yourself are in the digital stone age! Is there any real prospect of progress for Sanday and other not spots in 2017 or will we be having this same conversation in a years time?

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