Parts of the Outer Hebrides, Mull and the Isle of Bute are among 43 places which are next in line for high-speed fibre broadband, through a massive public-private investment.
Across Scotland, 54,000 more households and businesses will be able to benefit from the new local networks being created by the latest Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband rollout, which also includes Moray, Highland, East and West Dunbartonshire and Renfrewshire (see list below). The first connections in the latest locations will start to go live this summer.
More than 216,000 homes and businesses can already get better connected - at speeds of up to 80Mbps* - thanks to the £410m Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband partnership. And now the project is reaching further into rural areas as engineers from BT’s local network business, Openreach, continue work on the ground.
The Moray village of Tomintoul in the Cairngorms National Park will become the highest in Scotland to be connected to high-speed fibre broadband.
Over the next six months residents in Stornoway in Lewis will see engineers build the local networks needed to bring fibre based broadband to almost 5,000 premises in the Outer Hebrides for the first time.
In Argyll and Bute the roll-out is ahead of schedule with Lochgilphead, Campbeltown and Rothesay all expected to see services from this summer – several months ahead of the planned 2016 roll-out.
And today on Orkney the project is announcing the first live services in Kirkwall, and the further roll-out to more island locations over the next six months.
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 Lerwick in Shetland to Gretna in Dumfries and Galloway 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.”
The Digital Scotland rollout consists of two projects. One is led by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) for its region and the other covers the rest of Scotland. Funding partners include the Scottish Government, HIE, the UK Government through Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK), local authorities, the European Regional Development Fund and BT.
Stuart Robertson, Director of Digital at HIE, said: “With each step we bring fibre to communities which could not have hoped to receive it without this investment. The ambitious roll-out is a huge engineering challenge. The first of our Argyll islands and the Outer Hebrides will see connections over the next six months as a direct result of the successful laying of hundreds of miles of subsea cables over the summer.
“In Orkney today we are announcing that more than 1,200 Kirkwall premises can now order fibre based broadband. Work will continue in Kirkwall and Stromness, as previously announced, and move on to St Margaret’s Hope, Deerness, Evie and others.
“In Moray, where we have already reached half of all premises, we are bringing services to the Cairngorm National Park area and one of our highest locations - Tomintoul.”
Both projects are being delivered on the ground by BT, which is investing £126m in the programme.
Brendan Dick, director of BT Scotland, said: “The completion of our massive sub-sea cable laying programme has allowed us to make early inroads into delivering fibre for some of our island communities, well ahead of schedule. It’s great to see this progress when we’re still in the relatively early stages of the Digital Scotland partnership.
“Our fibre network passed around 10,000 new Scottish homes and businesses every week last year and we’ll continue to reach more and more communities in the course of this year. We’re very pleased to be playing our part to help connect the nation to fast fibre broadband and we know there’s still a lot to do.”
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 for details on roll-out and you can follow us 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.
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.
Argyll and Bute
Campbeltown; Craignure; Lochgilphead; Rothesay
Aviemore; Corpach; Cromarty; Culbokie; Drumchardine; Duror; Fearn; Fortrose; Grantown On Spey; Invergordon; Munlochy; Urray
Brodie; Speybay; Tomintoul
Burray; Deerness; Evie; Finstown; Harray; Holm; Kirkwall; St. Margaret's Hope; Stromness
Rest of Scotland
Balmore, Milngavie, Lennoxtown, Baillieston, Glasgow Central, Clydebank, Possil, Stepps, Bridge of Weir, Kilmacolm, Killin, Brediland, Erskine, Kilbarchan