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‘Exciting times’ as fibre broadband rollout reaches Argyll and Bute

Wednesday, September 2nd 2015 by Ellen Branagh

More than 14,000 homes and businesses in Argyll and Bute are now connected to new fibre networks, project bosses have announced.

The connections mark the start of a rollout that is expected to reach more than 80% of premises by the end of next year.

Some are the result of commercial fibre rollouts, while some are thanks to the £410m Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband (DSSB) project to extend fibre-based broadband to areas not reached by commercial projects.

The first services delivered by the project are in Campbeltown, Cardross, Dalmally, Dunoon, Innellan, Lochgilphead, Oban, Rothesay and Taynuilt.

More are expected to follow in these areas, with the rollout continuing until 2017.

In Argyll and Bute, commercial services are live in Dunoon and Helensburgh, with the rollout continued along with commercial deployment in Oban from the autumn.

The DSSB project in the area is funded by the Scottish and UK governments, Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA), the European Regional Development Fund and BT.

Brendan Dick, director of BT Scotland, said: “These are exciting times for Argyll and Bute as the Digital Scotland rollout begins to gather momentum.

“Over the past year or so we’ve done an enormous amount of work building a core fibre network to serve the area, laying cables not just under the ground but also on the seabed to serve our island communities.

“Having laid the new network, we’re now seeing it bear fruit with the first communities in Argyll and Bute going live with the fast technology.

'Making a difference'

“Over the next year and a half we’ll see many more communities in the area benefitting from fibre broadband, as the rollout, together with BT’s commercial rollout, reaches out to the majority of homes and businesses in the area.”

Last week, Cable.co.uk reported that a new £9m grant scheme to fund broadband projects in rural Scotland had been launched by Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon.

The new Scottish Rural Development Programme (SRDP) will be used to support community-led projects like GigaPlus Argyll, where groups of hard-to-reach communities have teamed up to get superfast broadband services from commercial providers.

Stuart Robertson, director of digital at HIE, said: “Last week we were in Oban to see how better broadband is already making a difference to local groups and businesses and their ability to work digitally."

He said organisations such as the Argyll & the Isles Tourism Co-operative, which is marketing the area online, and businesses such as internet services company Pole Position were delighted at the arrival of superfast broadband in the town.

“It’s great to see these early connections. Our aim is to build a broadband infrastructure which will allow as many communities and businesses as possible access the same level of connectivity as is enjoyed in more urban locations.”

The first phase of the main fibre rollout is not expected to reach everyone in the area, but Argyll and Bute is already described as leading the way in showing how the hardest-to-reach areas can get connected through projects like GigaPlus Argyll.

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