Two steps to connection
Without public investment in the Highlands and Islands, only around one in five of us would have seen access to fibre based broadband. Our next generation broadband roll-out has been designed to reach the most people possible, as quickly as possible and within the £146m budget available.
See how it's built
Every part of the region is important to HIE and the plans have taken account of many aspects including existing infrastructure, technical and physical feasibility, and ensuring the people of the Highlands and Islands get best value for the investment.
This project, combined with BT’s commercial rollout, will deliver fibre services to more than 200,000 properties across the region.
There are a number of stages involved in delivering fibre based broadband services as part of this three year project:
Main fibre network
There was very little existing fibre in the region, so the core of this project has been to create a massive fibre network across the region to provide the foundations for digital developments for years to come. Building the network was vital in bringing services closer to all and in allowing the project to reach the majority of premises in every local authority area in this current phase.
To create the backhaul network, BT has installed 800km of new fibre on land and more than 400km of subsea cables over 20 crossings to our islands. The subsea programme, which was completed at the end of 2014, is the largest marine fibre laying project undertaken by BT in the UK.
Local access network
As well as this backbone of fibre – the project then has to build the access points which deliver the services to people’s homes and businesses. This involves upgrading hundreds of exchange areas and creating the spider’s web of additional cable to connect local communities.
Local services are generally delivered via green cabinets - known as Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC).
The fibre is run from the exchange to your local green street cabinet. The broadband is then delivered over your existing copper phone lines using VDSL technology. It is capable of delivering download speeds of up to 80Mbps and upload speeds of up to 20Mbps depending on your distance from the cabinet.
As part of the project we are building hundreds of additional cabinets across the region. Almost half of the cabinets are being built to provide service for customers who currently get their telecoms direct from the exchange (Exchange Only or EO).
In addition to the FTTC technology there is also ‘Fibre to the Premise’ (FTTP) technology. It provides access to a service which can bring fibre right to your front door. It is being used in some areas as part of the project. FTTP can deliver download speeds of up to 330Mbps.
Ethernet, which can offer major cost and speed benefits for medium-sized or large businesses, will become much more widely available and offer a more affordable solution for businesses.