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Fibre broadband rollout reaches Aberdeenshire town and East Ayrshire village

Friday, September 18th 2015 by Ellen Branagh

The superfast broadband programme in Scotland has announced yet more progress, with fibre broadband opened up to more homes and businesses.

The Aberdeenshire and Cairngorms National Park town of Ballater and the East Ayrshire village of Catrine are now able to access fibre broadband as part of the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband programme.

An extra 1,000 homes and businesses in Ballater join more than 55,000 homes and businesses in Aberdeenshire, while more than 1,100 premises in Catrine are among 12,200 in East Ayrshire with access to fibre.

The latest premises are among more than 412,000 across Scotland which can now access fibre broadband services as part of the £410m Digital Scotland rollout.

Superfast availability in Ballater comes after the recent announcement that the first areas in the Cairngorms National Park had been connected to fibre.

To help local people find out more about the benefits of superfast broadband, a special drop-in event will be held at Church Square in Ballater from 2pm to 6pm on 29 September.

Those attending the event will also be able to climb aboard the new Digital Scotland Fibre Showcase, a specially-adapted vehicle which features all of the equipment used in the fibre rollout.

In Catrine, pupils at the local primary school had a lesson with a difference when the showcase visited them.

Roberta Schendel, principal teacher at Catrine Primary School, said: “It was a great opportunity for the children to see what benefits a fibre connection can provide, as well as all the amount of work that happens when installing fibre broadband in an area.”

'Reaching more communities'

All of the homes and businesses in the Ballater area reached by the Digital Scotland rollout were served by ‘exchange only’ lines which run directly from the exchange to the premises – bypassing the usual roadside cabinets.

Project bosses have previously described how upgrading exchange-only lines requires BT Openreach engineers to rearrange the existing network and lay hundreds of metres of new cable to re-route the lines through extra roadside cabinets.

Aberdeenshire Council has contributed £16m to the Digital Scotland rollout.

Councillor Moira Ingleby, chairwoman of the council’s Marr Area Committee, said: “It’s good to see this project reaching more communities in our area, contributing towards the aim of connecting most of our homes and businesses to fibre broadband.

“We know how important access to high-speed internet technology is to both residents and businesses – which is why Aberdeenshire Council chose to invest £16m into the programme’s rollout.”

Councillor Jim Buchanan, cabinet member for economy at East Ayrshire Council, which has contributed £1.1m to the Digital Scotland rollout, said: “It’s really exciting to hear that so many residences in Catrine can now connect to fibre broadband.

“It’s good to see this project reaching more communities in our area, contributing towards the aim of connecting most of our homes and businesses to a high-speed network.

“Broadband will make a big difference to residents, especially within education where you can access a number of resource materials online and carry out research on other schools, colleges and universities for your child’s future.”

BT is investing £126m in the Digital Scotland programme, in addition to its commercial fibre rollout in Scotland.

Sara Budge, programme director for Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband, said it was great news for residents and businesses in both areas.

“The difference that fibre broadband can make is amazing, giving much more flexibility whether it’s at work or in the home,” she said.

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