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Digital Scotland delivers fibre broadband to ‘out of reach’ homes

Monday, July 13th 2015 by Ellen Branagh

Engineers have overcome a major technical challenge to bring high-speed broadband to thousands of Scottish homes once thought to be “out of reach”, project bosses have said.

The 60,000 homes and businesses in more than 130 locations across Scotland were served by ‘exchange only’ lines, which run directly from the telephone exchange to the premises, bypassing the usual roadside cabinets used by the fibre rollout.

To upgrade them to fibre broadband as part of the Digital Scotland superfast broadband rollout, engineers from BT Openreach had to rearrange the existing network and lay hundreds of metres of new cable to reroute the lines through dozens of extra roadside cabinets.

The project means that people in places across Scotland, from the Highlands to the Scottish Borders, can access superfast speeds.

Scotland’s deputy first minister John Swinney said: “Rolling out high-speed broadband to homes and business premises that were once thought to be out of reach because they’re linked directly to telephone exchanges is another step forward.

“It’s good to see engineering solutions being put in place to overcome technical challenges and means additional fibre coverage for dozens of communities, with more to follow.”

Brendan Dick, BT Scotland director, said: “Some areas in Scotland have a higher than average number of lines connected directly to the local exchange.

“This was often an advantage with first generation broadband over copper wires, but it creates additional challenges when it comes to the rollout of high-speed fibre.

“Our engineers worked out an innovative way forward to give thousands more residents the chance to become part of the fibre broadband revolution.”

'Just one of the challenges'

He said it was “just one of the challenges” in the complex engineering programme, but the rollout is progressing well and passing around 5,000 homes a week.

The £410m Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband programme aims to provide fibre broadband infrastructure to parts of Scotland not included in commercial providers’ plans and now passes around 350,000 Scottish homes and businesses.

It is being delivered by BT, which is investing £126m in the programme in addition to its commercial upgrades.

The programme has also announced that more than 1,300 homes and businesses in and around Leitholm and Coldstream can now connect to fibre.

The 300 homes and businesses in Leitholm and the 1,000 in Coldstream are among 16,000 Scottish Borders premises which can now access fibre broadband because of the programme.

Combined with BT’s commercial coverage, it means that more than 38,000 premises across the Borders can now sign up with a service provider to receive fibre.

Councillor Stuart Bell, Scottish Borders Council’s (SBC) executive member for economic development, said: “It’s great to see that the Digital Scotland programme is making its way across the Scottish Borders, particularly into some of our more rural and smaller villages.

“Fibre broadband opens up new opportunities for businesses and homes, as well as rural life.

“We know how important access to high-speed internet technology is to both residents and businesses – which is why Scottish Borders Council chose to invest £8.4m into the programme’s rollout, to ensure as many people as possible can benefit from it.”

Sara Budge, programme director for Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband, said: “It’s great news that many residents and businesses are able to receive fibre broadband thanks to the programme, counting towards the 38,000 who can now choose to access fibre broadband across the Scottish Borders.”

“Once you’ve signed up with a service provider, the difference that fibre broadband can make is amazing, giving much more flexibility whether it’s at work or in the home.”

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