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Rural Scotland to benefit from extension of superfast broadband scheme

Monday, April 20th 2015 by Phil Wilkinson-Jones

Rural communities are set to benefit as the rollout of superfast broadband in Scotland enters its next phase.

The Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband programme has passed more than 275,000 premises since the rollout started in April 2014.

The next phase of the £410m project will deliver speeds of 24Mbps and faster to a further 145,000 homes and businesses.

Fibre broadband will be rolled out in another 200-plus locations across the country as engineers from BT’s local network business, Openreach, continue work on the ground.

The first connections in the latest locations are expected to start to go live this autumn.

The project is reaching further into more rural areas, with places including Braemar in Aberdeenshire, Portpatrick in Dumfries and Galloway as well as Voe in the Shetland Islands all set to have fibre available to them for the first time.

It will also start to deliver fibre to communities in Edinburgh and West Lothian, North Ayrshire and the Falkirk area, which are benefiting from the Digital Scotland project for the first time.

Some homes and businesses will be served after additional engineering work on ‘exchange only’ lines, which run directly from the exchange to households and businesses – bypassing the usual roadside cabinets.

Engineers will rearrange the existing network and lay hundreds of metres of cable to reroute these lines through new cabinets.

Once this work is complete, residents in Kingussie in Highland, Lumphananin in Aberdeenshire, Creetown in Dumfries and Galloway, and Dunure in South Ayrshire will be among those able to access download speeds of up to 80Mbps and upload speeds of up to 20Mbps through various service providers.

'Most complex'

Brendan Dick, director of BT Scotland, said: “The rollout of fibre broadband across Scotland is one of the biggest and most complex civil engineering projects taking place in the UK today and we’re proud to be at the heart of it.

“It’s great to be announcing so many new locations this week as we celebrate our first, full year of deployment.

“In any project on this scale plans can change as engineering work progresses, for a variety of reasons.

“It’s important people understand that our plans aren’t set in stone but give the best possible forward view of where we expect to go next with the rollout.”

He said the Digital Scotland website is updated frequently with information about the rollout.

“I’d also encourage people to register online for updates when there’s news for their postcode area, such as when fibre broadband becomes available,” he added.

The Digital Scotland rollout consists of two projects. One is led by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) for its region and the other covers the rest of Scotland.

Stuart Robertson, HIE Director of Digital Highlands and Islands, said: “With the first fibre broadband services now available to order in Orkney and Shetland it’s great that the roll-out is continuing for more of the islands’ communities.”

He said work over the next six months will see coverage stretch further into the Badenoch and Strathspey area, while four new fibre cabinets in Kingussie will serve more than 800 homes and businesses.

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