High speed broadband on the way for Great Cumbrae and Arran

​ Work is underway to bring the first high-speed fibre broadband services to many homes and businesses in Cumbrae and Arran

Work is underway to bring the first high-speed fibre broadband services to many homes and businesses in Cumbrae and Arran.

Around 1,300 premises in Millport and almost 2,000 across Arran in the Brodick, Corrie, Lamlash, Lochranza, Shiskine and Whiting Bay areas will be amongst the first to get access to a new network bringing faster broadband speeds.

It’s expected the first services, which are being delivered through the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband (DSSB) project will ‘go live’ during the next six months. More information on additional roll-out will follow in the coming months.

The project, led in parts of North Ayrshire by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), is bringing better broadband to thousands of homes and businesses which could not be reached by the private sector’s commercial fibre broadband programme.

The coverage forms part of a three-year, £146m investment, funded by the Scottish Government, the UK Government, HIE and private sector partner BT, with engineers from BT’s local network business Openreach delivering the project on the ground.

Stuart Robertson, HIE’s Director of Digital, commented: “No commercial roll-out was planned for Cumbrae or Arran and so the project will make a dramatic change to connectivity on the islands.This first phase has been designed to bring better broadband to the majority of premises and will be delivered in stages during 2016. While the roll-out won’t reach everyone it has been designed to reach as many people 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.

“As roll-out reaches our communities, it’s important to stress people aren’t just upgraded. If you want a fibre based service you have to order it though an Internet Service Provider.You can check availability on the Digital Scotland interactive map at www.hie.co.uk/whereandwhen

Getting fibre to the islands for the first time has been a major engineering project.Subsea cable was laid from Largs to Millport, and for Arran the island was linked to the mainland via two subsea fibre optic cables.These were successfully put in place between Blackwaterfoot and Campbeltown and Corrie and West Kilbride at the end of 2014.

In addition to these subsea cables, additional fibre cabling has been laid across the island in preparation for engineers from BT’s local network business, Openreach, to begin building the new local fibre network, which brings the services to people’s homes and businesses.

Brendan Dick, BT Scotland director, said: “The Digital Scotland rollout has now passed more than half the homes and business premises currently included in our plans for the Highlands and Islands and it’s fantastic that our engineers are now reaching into smaller, rural communities, which have so much to gain.

“We’ll continue to work hard to maintain the great progress to date and bring fast fibre to as many people as possible, as quickly as possible.

“BT is determined to make sure that Scotland remains at the forefront of the high-speed digital revolution. We’re proud to be working hand in hand with our partners to deliver a truly Digital Scotland. Everyone can keep up to speed with the latest developments at www.hie.co.uk/digital.”

Background Information for Arran and Millport.

How do people get services?

The new fibre broadband network will be rolled out in stages – and building work will happen across the islands in villages which are part of the project.

In most areas it’s delivered through new green fibre cabinets (fibre to the cabinet or FTTC). In some cases we link new cabinets into existing telecoms cabinets, but in others where people are currently connected direct to the exchange we re-design the network and re-route lines into new cabinets.

When connected to Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC) technology, premises could have direct access to download speeds of up to 80 Mbps. For those with access to Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) there are options regarding speed up to a maximum of 330Mbps. These are the top wholesale speeds available from Openreach to all service providers; speeds offered by service providers may vary. Speeds and installation processes will also vary from customer to customer.

There are communities where numbers are currently too small, or homes are too dispersed for us to provide a viable solution.

Digital Scotland partners continue to look at the best ways to reach more people. This could get easier as technology improves, as more funding comes through for future phases, and with the support of Community Broadband Scotland to help areas consider alternative technology options where required.

The list below identifies new areas where we will be building new fibre infrastructure in the coming six months. Others may follow. New areas where work is starting are announced every three months throughout the three year project. A full list of areas where work has started or is live is available at www.hie.co.uk/whereandwhen and there is also a postcode checker where people can check their own telephone or postcode details for an idea of progress.

Brodick, Corrie, Lamlash, Lochranza, Shiskine, Whiting

Great Cumbrae