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Gretna Green fibre connection takes Scottish rollout to 500,000 milestone

Monday, January 4th 2016 by Phil Wilkinson-Jones

The government rollout of fibre broadband in Scotland has reached more than 500,000 premises, it was announced today.

The milestone was passed as a new fibre cabinet in Gretna Green became the latest to ‘go live’ as part of the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband programme.

The £410m project is now two-thirds complete and has two years left to run.

In total, more than 2,200 new fibre street cabinets have been built, with the most northern serving 80 homes in Bod of Gremista, Shetland and the most southern covering 250 premises in Isle of Whithorn, Dumfries & Galloway.

The cabinet in Gretna Green is one of the last to go live in the historic village, where nearly one in four premises has already connected to fibre.

Scottish Government infrastructure secretary Keith Brown marked the landmark at the village’s Famous Blacksmiths Shop and restaurant, a wedding business already benefiting from fibre broadband.

Mr Brown said: “The start of 2016 marks a real high point in our progress towards ensuring world-class digital connectivity for Scotland by 2020.

“Our fibre infrastructure is growing rapidly and on average each week the programme reaches another 7,000 premises.

“Today’s milestone is fantastic news for the 500,000 households and businesses across Scotland which would simply not have seen the benefits of high speed, high quality digital connectivity without the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband programme.

“It is among the most ambitious broadband infrastructure projects ever undertaken.”

Lynda Denton, head of sales and marketing at Gretna Green Ltd, said: “Fibre broadband arriving to Gretna Green has really helped our business, we have over 850,000 visitors each year, including 1,500 couples who come here to marry in the historic Famous Blacksmiths Shop.

'Every connection is vital'

“Wi-fi being available is important, it provides our newlyweds and visitors, who come from all over the world, with the ability to share their photos and videos. It’s a wonderful way for Gretna Green love to be shared with friends and family back home.”

The Digital Scotland rollout consists of two projects – one covering the Highlands and Islands area, led by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), and the other covering the rest of Scotland, led by the Scottish Government.

BT Scotland director Brendan Dick said: “We made good progress with the expansion of Scotland’s fibre-based infrastructure in 2015, we’ve reached 500,000 premises with another 250,000 to be reached in the coming months.

“In total, more than 1.9m Scottish premises can now get connected to high-speed broadband on our open network, with a wealth of choice in cost and services.”

Stuart Robertson, director of digital at HIE, said: “Availability of fibre broadband for homes and businesses in the Highlands and Islands has grown by over 55% since 2014 and is expected to reach at least 84% by the end of this year.

“We’re delighted that the partnership investment has brought better broadband to people in over 100 towns and villages previously missed.

“Every connection is vital to those living and working here and we’re already looking at the options to reach even further.”

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