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Scottish superfast broadband rollout to reach John O'Groats in 2016

Monday, August 17th 2015 by Phil Wilkinson-Jones

The rollout of superfast broadband is to reach the northeastern-most tip of Britain next year.

Following a re-modelling of the rollout plans for the Scottish Highlands, fibre services will be installed in John O’Groats in 2016.

Superfast speeds have recently been made available to 10,000 premises in Caithness and work to reach another 900 homes and businesses in the far north will get underway in the next six months.

The Caithness and Sutherland villages of Bettyhill, Dunbeath, Keiss, Melvich and Reay are among the communities set to benefit from faster speeds in the next six months.

Building work announced three months ago in Watten continues and fibre broadband is already available to order in Castletown, Halkirk, Lybster, Thrumster, Thurso and Wick.

In Sutherland, services are live in Brora, Dornoch, Embo and Golspie.

The Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband project, led in the region by the Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), is rolling out fibre services to premises not covered by the private sector’s commercial rollout.

The northerly coverage forms part of a three-year £146m rollout, funded by the Scottish Government, the UK Government, HIE and BT, with engineers from BT Openreach delivering the project on the ground.

Scotland's deputy first minister John Swinney said: “The rollout of high-speed broadband in the far north of mainland Scotland is gathering momentum, and it’s great to see this important milestone passed, and that new villages will be able to access services soon.

'Headway'

“Access to next generation broadband will be of huge benefit to the homes and businesses in these areas, and indicates the Scottish Government’s commitment to ensuring we have the first-rate digital infrastructure we need to be a world class digital nation by 2020.”

HIE’s director of digital, Stuart Robertson, said: “There are good levels of coverage now in both Wick and Thurso.

“This includes the introduction of new fibre broadband cabinets created for the many businesses and customers in the town centres who were previously connected directly to the exchange.

“The rollout does come in stages depending on the existing network, and we will see fibre broadband made more widely available in some of the places which are already ‘live’ such as Wick, Thurso and also in Lybster.

“We are delighted that ongoing modelling work has allowed us to look at how we can draw the village of John O’Groats into the programme. We’ll carry out further local surveys when we start work in the area next year to maximise the numbers of premises reached.”

The announcement comes after the UK Government announced the UK-wide rollout of superfast broadband had passed more than 3m homes and businesses.

Brendan Dick, director of BT Scotland, said: “We’re making good headway with the Digital Scotland rollout, passing 7,000 more premises a week.

“Coupled with our commercial upgrades it means more than 1.7m Scottish homes and businesses can now choose to connect with much higher speeds.

“Our Openreach engineers have worked tirelessly to connect some of the most remote parts of Scotland, from Shetland and the Hebrides to Rothesay in Argyll and Bute, and now places like Dores and Dallas are set to follow.”

Picture courtesy of Asterion.

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