The Digital Scotland rollout of superfast broadband has now passed more than 57,000 homes and businesses across the country, it was announced today.
Properties stretching from Findhorn in Moray to Mauchline in East Ayrshire are already able to benefit from new fibre broadband services being delivered across Scotland by the £410m Digital Scotland project.
BT engineers, who are delivering the Scottish rollout on the ground, have installed more than 1,400km of cable on the mainland. In addition, 10 of 20 sub-sea fibre optic cables have been laid as part of an unparalleled programme to connect island communities. More than 200 new street cabinets have gone ‘live’ for fibre on streets across the country.
The project update was given as the UK Government announced that more than 1 million UK homes and businesses now have access to superfast broadband as a result of the UK-wide Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) rollout, which is providing access to superfast broadband in areas the private sector would not otherwise have reached.
The Digital Scotland network is currently passing around 3,500 more homes and businesses each week and the rate is expected to increase in the next few months as the rollout gathers pace. A large part of the early work has involved building a brand new fibre spine across the Highlands and Islands, where almost one in four premises (22 per cent) now has access to fibre broadband.
The build on the fibre backbone has reached the Outer Hebrides and work is also under way on the UK’s most northerly communities, with fibre cabinets being installed in Lerwick.
Brendan Dick, BT Scotland director, said: “Today marks a real milestone in the advance of fibre broadband in rural Britain, with thousands more premises being passed here in Scotland each week. Our Scottish projects are on a scale not seen anywhere else in the UK, so we’ve had a lot of groundwork to do and we’re still in the early stages.
“At BT Scotland, we’ve recruited dozens more engineers to help deploy and install fibre services, we’ve laid hundreds of miles of new cables and we’re currently seeing the network extend its tentacles under the sea to the islands, so progress is highly visible and the new network is really taking shape. Our engineers are doing a sterling job and we’re proud to be involved in delivering this vital infrastructure for Scotland.”
Announcing the 1 million milestone had been passed by the programme, with the rate at which the fibre technology is being rolled out rapidly accelerating, the UK Government said the £1.7 billion UK-wide rollout will deliver returns of £20 for every £1 invested.
UK Government Culture Secretary Sajid Javid said: “More than a million homes and businesses have now benefited as a result of Government’s investment in superfast broadband.
“It is totally transforming the way we live and work. You can download feature length films faster, chatting online with family and friends around the world using VOIP is more reliable and households can go online simultaneously without the connection slowing down or dropping out.
“For businesses, superfast speeds are boosting profits through increased sales, reduced overheads and accessing markets abroad for the first time.”
Stuart Robertson, Director of Digital for the Highlands and Islands, said: “The scale of the challenge to deliver superfast broadband across the Highlands and Islands outstrips any other part of the UK. Creating a future-proof fibre network which will reach some of our most remote communities is a huge engineering feat. Modern, fast and reliable broadband is one of the most positive social and economic development boosts in many years and its impact will be felt across the region.”
The Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband initiative consists of two projects – one covering the Highlands and Islands area and the other covering the rest of Scotland.
More than three quarters of a million homes and business premises are expected to benefit from the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband initiative, which will see around 95 per cent of premises in Scotland having access to fibre broadband infrastructure by the end of 2017.
Funding partners include the Scottish Government, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, the UK Government through Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK), local authorities, the European Development Fund and BT, which is investing £126m in the programme.