The first homes and businesses in Sutherland are now able to order high speed fibre broadband, thanks to a digital roll-out being led in the region by Highlands and Islands Enterprise.
The village of Embo has joined the growing number of locations, stretching from Shetland to Argyll where people can now access fibre based services through a new network being built across the region.
£146m is being invested over three years to reach 84% of Highlands and Islands premises by Digital Scotland partners: the Scottish Government, Broadband Delivery UK, HIE itself and BT, which is the private sector partner delivering the project.
The Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband project is bringing services to areas which would not have been reached through roll-out of next generation broadband by the commercial market.
Members of the Dornoch focus group and Embo residents joined HIE and BT at the village’s green fibre cabinet to celebrate the arrival of the first services for Sutherland. Further roll-out is due to come soon in Dornoch and in Golspie, with areas in Brora, Helmsdale and Dunbeath amongst those due to start during 2015.
Nick Scroggie, who works with the Digital Highlands and Islands team, said: “Fibre is a completely different product to existing broadband so customers aren’t just upgraded. Those interested do have to order it. You should contact your internet service provider or check available deals online. Some customers may need a visit from an engineer to get connected.
“Depending on the distance of the house from the cabinet download speeds can be as fast as 80Mbps*. This makes it easier for people to access the internet, download and share large files, and use online software even when there are a few people in the household using it at once.”
Local Councillor Jim McGillivray welcomed the arrival of better broadband to the village, he commented: “It’s great news that high-speed broadband is available in Embo, and also that work on the local networks bringing it to Dornoch and Golspie is underway.
“The Sutherland community is working together to make the very best of the many assets our area offers, and the introduction of an improved broadband infrastructure is another boost which will help us maximise opportunities.”
The homes and businesses in Embo join more than 47,000 premises across the region which can access fibre based services.
Brendan Dick, BT Scotland director, said: “Embo residents now have access to their best ever broadband speeds and more will follow across Sutherland. As the fibre network extends, making the most of it is vital in our remote and rural communities. High-speed broadband will bring social and economic benefits not just to Embo but to the wider Highlands and Islands as well.”
There are two main parts to the roll-out across the region. The first is building a huge new network bringing fibre to many places it has never been before, and then rolling out the local networks and connections needed to get it to homes and businesses.
Potential customers can check availability with their internet provider. Also, there’s an interactive map on www.hie.co.uk/digital where you can check your phone number or postcode for the latest information on progress.
*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.
Our deployment plans are subject to change. The expectations reflected in this plan are reasonable, but because our rollout involves risks and uncertainties, actual results may differ from those expressed or implied.