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Fibre broadband will bring a ‘revolution’ to life on Scottish island

Thursday, July 23rd 2015 by Ellen Branagh

A popular Scottish tourist destination now has access to high speed fibre broadband thanks to the country’s superfast broadband project.

More than 2,700 homes and businesses in Rothesay, the Isle of Bute’s main town, as well as neighbouring village Ardbeg, can now order fibre.

The move is the first step in rolling out fibre in the area and more coverage in the town, and for additional villages across the island, will follow.

The £146m Digital Scotland project is being led in the region by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), and carried out by BT Openreach.

The arrival of fibre will bring a “revolution in working life” to Argyll and Bute in the same way that steamships brought economic prosperity, BT Scotland’s director said today.

Access is being provided through seven green fibre cabinets, six in Rothesay and one in Ardbeg, which have been built next to existing telecoms cabinets.

The project is part of the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband rollout, which consists of two projects – one covering the Highlands and Islands area and the other covering the rest of Scotland.

Scotland’s deputy first minister John Swinney said: “We are changing the shape of access to better broadband for our rural and island communities.

“The Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband project is making high speed services available to thousands of people every week in places which would not have been reached through the market.

“It’s fantastic to see the first homes and businesses now able to order in Rothesay.

“It’s another step in building the infrastructure which will see us fulfil the Scottish government’s commitment to deliver world class connectivity in Scotland by 2020.”

'Fibre jigsaw'

BT Scotland director Brendan Dick said: “As part of BT’s most complex subsea fibre deployment in UK waters, two subsea links between Bute and Cowal and between Bute and Cumbrae have helped to bring fibre broadband to Rothesay.

“Engineers have laid more than 250 miles of subsea cable around Scotland’s shores which, along with the newly installed street cabinets and underground cable around Rothesay, adds to the the fibre jigsaw in the area.

“While the steamships brought economic prosperity to places like Bute, fibre broadband will equally bring another revolution in working life to Argyll and Bute, with access to the latest technologies such as video conferencing, faster file sharing and cloud-based services.”

The Highlands and Islands project includes the local authority areas of Highland, Moray, Orkney Islands, Shetland Islands, Eilean Siar (Western Isles), parts of Argyll and Bute and part of North Ayrshire (Islands). HIE’s director of digital, Stuart Robertson, reminded customers that they will not be automatically upgraded and will need to order fibre.

He said further coverage in the area would follow, adding: “Openreach engineers will be back in the area soon to roll out services to more people.

“This will include creating brand new networks to connect hundreds of premises which currently get their telecoms direct from the exchange, known as ‘exchange only’ lines. This includes many premises in the town centre.”

Delivering exchange only lines is a more complicated process, involving re-routing lines and building new cabinets.

It is hoped the first of these upgrades will come through during autumn this year.

Additional rollout is planned during 2015 for the north of Bute, including at Craigmore where the first services will be available soon. Rollout will continue into 2016 at Kilchattan Bay.

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