Broadband in Scotland
Broadband in Scotland is available in a number of different types. The availability of the fastest broadband packages in Scotland, especially fibre optic broadband, can suffer as a result of the large area that Scotland covers, and how sparsely populated many areas of the country are.
Broadband providers in Scotland
There are several different providers that operate in Scotland, with some being more active in certain areas of the country than in others. Probably the most widely available broadband provider in Scotland is BT, as it is BT's phone network that has connected the towns and cities of Scotland for generations. In some areas of Scotland, broadband is also provided by many of the other big names in UK fixed line broadband including Sky, Virgin Media. TalkTalk, Plusnet, EE and many others.
Broadband availability in Scotland
To find out exactly which broadband providers operate in your area of Scotland you should use our postcode checker at the top of this page. Once you do we’ll show you a list of all the different broadband providers and packages that you have to choose from, and we’ll also be able to give you a good idea of the actual broadband speed you’ll be able to enjoy in your home.
Broadband reach issues in Scotland
One of the principal problems with providing broadband in Scotland is what is known as ‘broadband reach’. Simply put, homes that are more than a few miles from the local exchange aren’t able to receive traditional broadband that is transmitted along the existing telephone network. This is because as the length of the copper wire that connects the home to the exchange increases so the speed and reliability of the connection decreases.
Residents in many rural areas of Scotland will often find that their homes suffer from broadband reach problems, and they will be unable to receive anything approaching a reliable broadband service over their phone line. Unfortunately as these areas are also, by their nature, sparsely populated, it is very unlikely that a fibre optic broadband will have reached them.
Mobile Broadband in Scotland
In some areas, Scottish broadband is only available at very low speeds while, in others, fixed line broadband is not available at all. These areas suffer from exactly the same issue with rural broadband that are experienced by village residents across the rest of the UK. As so many of Scotland's residents live in areas with broadband reach issues, and/or in such sparsely populated areas, consumers’ best option for internet access may actually be mobile broadband.
Users with a mobile broadband account use a mobile broadband dongle to access broadband via the mobile phone network. These dongles come in two basic forms. The first – and most well-established – type of dongle is a plug-and-play device that slots into a computer’s USB port. The second – and newer – type doesn’t connect directly to the computer, but instead creates a localised wi-fi “hotspot” within a few metres of the dongle. The great thing about this kind of mobile broadband receiver is that it can work with devices that don’t have USB sockets, such as some tablet computers including the iPad.
Fibre optic broadband in Scotland
In cities and larger towns in Scotland fibre optic broadband may be available from Virgin Media, BT or Plusnet. To find out if you can get fibre optic broadband from any of these providers where you live just enter your postcode into our availability checker at the top of this page and then select “Fibre Optic” under the broadband type on the left hand side of our package filter.
As with the rest of the UK, more often than not, fibre optic broadband is only available in the most densely populated areas such as Glasgow and Edinburgh. As Scotland has such a large surface area this means that the majority of Scottish residents cannot receive fibre optic broadband from any provider. One of the main exceptions to this is an area of western Scotland. In Dreghorn, Irvine, Kilmarnock and Troon, a regional cable company called Smallworld, which is now owned by Virgin Media, offers fibre optic broadband along with cable TV and home phone services.