Engineers beat network challenges to bring faster fibre broadband to thousands more Scottish homes
Engineers have overcome a major technical challenge to make high-speed fibre broadband available to 60,000 more Scottish homes and businesses.
The premises in more than 130 locations across the country can now access the technology through the £410m Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband rollout after months of additional planning and engineering work.
The homes and businesses were all served by ‘Exchange Only’ lines which run directly from the exchange to the premises – bypassing the usual road-side cabinets which are integral to the fibre rollout.
To overcome the hurdle, engineers from Openreach, BT’s local network business, rearranged existing network and laid hundreds of metres of new cable to reroute lines through dozens of extra road-side cabinets.
As a result, local people in places from Spean Bridge in the Highlands and Ballater in Aberdeenshire to Ochiltree in East Ayrshire, Clovenfords in the Scottish Borders and Gullane in East Lothian are now able to access download speeds of up to 80 Mbps and upload speeds of up to 20 Mbps* through their chosen service providers.
Deputy First Minister John Swinney said: “Rolling out high-speed broadband to homes and business premises that were once thought to be out of reach because they’re linked directly to telephone exchanges is another step forward. It’s good to see engineering solutions being put in place to overcome technical challenges and means additional fibre coverage for dozens of communities, with more to follow.
“Every week hundreds more households and businesses nationwide are being given the opportunity to upgrade their broadband to a faster fibre service through the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband rollout. Residents can visit www.digitalscotland.org/whereandwhen to check if they can get connected.”
The Digital Scotland rollout is being delivered on the ground by BT, which is investing £126m in the programme in addition to its commercial upgrades. In total, the Digital Scotland deployment now passes around 350,000 Scottish homes and businesses.
Brendan Dick, BT Scotland director, said: “Some areas in Scotland have a higher than average number of lines connected directly to the local exchange. This was often an advantage with first generation broadband over copper wires, but it creates additional challenges when it comes to the rollout of high-speed fibre.
“Our engineers worked out an innovative way forward to give thousands more residents the chance to become part of the fibre broadband revolution. It’s just one of the challenges in this highly complex engineering programme, but the roll-out is progressing well and passing around 7,000 homes a week.”
Digital Economy Minister Ed Vaizey said: "This is brilliant news for the 60,000 additional homes and businesses who can now access superfast speeds. The UK Government is investing £120m in Scotland as part of it's transformation of the UK's digital landscape that will see 95% of the nation have access to superfast speeds by 2017."
*These are the top wholesale speeds available from Openreach to all service providers; speeds offered by service providers may vary.
While many premises in enabled areas now have access to fibre broadband, some may not be able to connect due to ongoing rollout, network topography and other technological factors. To be sure that you can get fibre broadband, check with your internet service provider.
The Digital Scotland rollout consists of two projects – one covering the Highlands and Islands area and the other covering the rest of Scotland. Funding partners include the Scottish Government, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, the UK Government through Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK), local authorities and the European Regional Development Fund as well as BT.
The Rest of Scotland project is being supported through £157.6million public funding including £50 million from BDUK and BT’s private investment of £106.7million. The public funding includes funding from all 27 local authorities in the project area and additional funding from 14 local authorities who are investing around £51 million to increase coverage, meet local priorities and address the digital divide in their areas. Coupled with the investment in the Highlands and Islands region announced earlier in the year, it brings the total investment in fibre broadband in Scotland to more than £410 million.
The Rest of Scotland project area includes the following local authority areas: Aberdeen City, Aberdeenshire, Angus, parts of Argyll & Bute, Clackmannanshire, Dumfries & Galloway, Dundee City, East Ayrshire, East Dunbartonshire, East Lothian, East Renfrewshire, City of Edinburgh, Falkirk, Fife, Glasgow City, Inverclyde, Midlothian, North Ayrshire (apart from the Islands), North Lanarkshire, Perth & Kinross, Renfrewshire, Scottish Borders, South Ayrshire, South Lanarkshire, Stirling, West Dunbartonshire, West Lothian.
The Highlands and Islands broadband project is being led by Highlands and Islands Enterprise and includes the following local authority areas: Highland, Moray, Orkney Islands, Shetland Islands, Eilean Siar (Western Isles), parts of Argyll and Bute and part of North Ayrshire (Islands).