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Isle of Arran businesses get fibre broadband boost

Monday, April 4th 2016 by Phil Wilkinson-Jones

Businesses on the Isle of Arran are already feeling the benefit of fibre broadband after the service was made available to more parts of the island.

Around 1,900 homes and businesses in Brodick, Corrie, Lamlash, Lochranza, Shiskine and Whiting Bay can now order faster services.

Additional premises in Brodick, Corrie, Catacol and Lochranza will be able to access fibre services soon and Pirnhill, Sliddery and Kildonan can expect coverage by the end of the year.

Thanks to the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband (DSSB) programme and commercial rollouts, almost 60% of the island can access fibre. That number is expected to reach 90% by the end of 2016.

The DSSB project, led in parts of North Ayrshire by the Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), is connecting thousands of homes and businesses not included in commercial rollout plans.

Arran Graphics, a design and printing firm based in Brodick, has recently placed an order for fibre-based broadband.

Director Graham Chappell said he is looking forward to his connection being upgraded.

“As a company which designs all manner of publications and printed merchandise for clients, sending large files to suppliers around the world for printing, having faster upload speeds is important to my business,” he said.

“Previously, sending large files could take overnight or I might have delivered an external drive with the files. Now I’ll be able to quickly upload them online in minutes or just a few seconds.”

Stuart Robertson, HIE’s director of digital, said: “It’s great to see the first businesses on Arran benefiting from the project which is bringing dramatic change to connectivity on the island.

“Businesses in sectors such as tourism and business services can use fast internet connections to meet the demands of their customers and improve their own productivity.”

Further investment

Mr Robertson warned that the rollout wouldn’t reach everyone, but said it had been designed to reach as many as possible.

“We maximise coverage at every stage and we are looking at how to get the best possible service to those in harder to reach areas,” he added.

“HIE has also recently announced further investment to ensure the region’s tourism businesses maximise the benefits from a new £1.2m Digital Tourism Scotland (DTS) programme.”

The major engineering work to connect Arran to fibre broadband started with an ambitious subsea project in 2014.

The island is now linked to the mainland via two submarine fibre optic cables, which run between Blackwaterfoot and Campbeltown, and Corrie and West Kilbride.

Brendan Dick, BT Scotland director, said: “Combined with BT’s commercial coverage, more than 1.9m homes and businesses can now connect to faster fibre-based broadband across Scotland.

“These faster connections are being delivered by the use of complex and innovative engineering solutions to reach the smallest, most remote communities, which are already benefiting from the rollout.

“We’ll continue to work with our partners to bring faster broadband to as many people as possible, and as quickly as we can.”

Picture courtesy of Vincent van Zeijst.

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