More than 23,000 homes and businesses across the region will benefit from the next round of fibre broadband roll-out, as part of the £146m Digital Highlands and Islands project.
Work over the next six months will bring next generation broadband to 15 new communities in the Highlands and Islands, with roll-out extending into Caithness for the first time.
In the Highlands over 15,000 new premises will be able to receive fibre based broadband services through the project, which is led in the region by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE). Other locations announced in this phase include almost 7,000 additional premises in Moray and almost 800 more in rural Argyll.
Many of the locations – including Thurso, Wick, Ballachulish, Kiltarlity, Spean Bridge, Dalmally, Kilmelford, Longmorn and Clochan – will receive fibre based high speed technology for the first time. Others will see additional premises connected as a result of building upon their existing, or planned, fibre broadband networks. A full list of locations is below.
Local people will have access to fibre broadband at speeds of up to 80Mbps, thanks to the engineering rollout being delivered on the ground by BT’s local network business, Openreach.
The Scotland-wide Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband programme aims to provide fibre broadband infrastructure to areas not covered by commercial deployment. Combined with commercial roll-out plans by the private sector, the Highlands and Islands project aims to reach 84% of premises by the end of 2016.
Nicola Sturgeon, Deputy First Minister, said: “This latest announcement marks another important milestone for the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband partnership.
“The scale of the challenge of delivering fibre broadband across our rural communities in Scotland shouldn’t be underestimated but engineers are working hard and making good progress. One major component – the huge sub-sea project to lay cables out to the islands – is now largely complete. It’s also fantastic to see the project extending into places like Spean Bridge which will benefit greatly from the economic advantages fibre broadband brings.
“We are still in the early stages of this ambitious partnership project, but it is already delivering for thousands of Scottish homes and businesses who simply wouldn’t have had access to high-speed technology without it.
“It’s a fundamental part of the Scottish Government’s aim to deliver world class connectivity by 2020, enabling people across Scotland to connect any time, any place, anywhere using any device.”
HIE’s Stuart Robertson, Director of Digital Highlands and Islands, commented: “The first Highlands and Islands cabinets went live in March and almost 30,000 premises can now order services across the region directly as a result of the public investment programme. Without it only one in five of us would have had access through commercial roll-out.
“We’re delighted that the rollout, and the massive fibre network we are creating across the region, is stretching out from the BT commercial areas and bringing services to places such as Wick and Thurso.”
Brendan Dick, BT Scotland director, said: “The arrival of fibre broadband in these latest communities will be great news for local homes and businesses. In a few months’ time local people will be streaming, shopping, learning and sharing faster than ever before. Fibre broadband opens up lots of new online opportunities, whether you’re a busy mum juggling work with homework, a commuter wanting to work from home or a business contemplating moving functions to the cloud.
“The civil engineering project underpinning this new network is not just one of the biggest in Scotland but is among the most complex anywhere in Europe. Openreach has been recruiting dozens of extra engineers to help shape Scotland’s future and many of our young apprentices are gaining valuable experience helping to connect up people to fibre in local communities across Scotland.”
UK Government Digital Economy Minister Ed Vaizey said: “The UK Government is investing more than £120m in the transformation of Scotland’s digital landscape, and today’s announcement of the next 80,000 homes and businesses in Scotland due to benefit from the rollout of superfast broadband is fantastic news.”
Funding partners include the Scottish Government, HIE, the UK Government through Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK), as well private sector partners delivering the project BT.
Locations will be announced quarterly for the life of the projects as the fibre network rolls out across Scotland. Further detail on locations live and areas coming soon is available on www.hie.co.uk/digital and you can find more info on the Scotland wide project at www.digitalscotland.org
The list of locations for the Highlands and Islands for this phase is as follows. Some of these are new areas and some are building on areas where work has already started. If you want to see other areas which have been announced in your patch please see here
Balvicar; Connel; Dalmally; Kilmelford
Thurso; Wick; Alness; Ballachulish; Beauly; Dornoch; Fort William; Inverness; Kildary; Kiltarlity; Nairn; Onich; Spean Bridge; Strathpeffer; Tain
Elgin; Buckie; Clochan; Forres; Keith; Longmorn; Rothes; Rothiemay