More places in Highlands and Islands get set for a superfast boost

More than 115,000 households and businesses across the Highlands and Islands now have access to their fastest-ever broadband speed through the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband project, with more to follow.

More than 115,000 households and businesses across the Highlands and Islands now have access to their fastest-ever broadband speed through the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband project.

And work is to begin over the next six months to add to the growing number of locations where services are live or build is under way.

New areas seeing roll-out for the first time include Symbister in Shetland, Scourie in NW Sutherland, Benbecula on the Outer Hebrides, many parts of Skye, additional areas in Arran, Port Ellen on Islay and Glenlivet in Moray. A full list of areas is below.

To benefit from the faster connection speeds when they are available, residents need to sign up for a fibre service with their chosen provider, as upgrades aren’t automatic.

Customers can find out if services are available on the checker at www.hie.co.uk/whereandwhen

Engineers expect the first fibre connections to be available in many of these areas by this summer* as Openreach, BT’s local network business, continues work on the ground.

Stuart Robertson, HIE’s Director of Digital, said: “It’s great to see the fibre cabinets coming through in more and more locations across the region.We are seeing increasingly smaller communities drawn in and are tackling some challenging geographies to reach people. Most recent places to see coverage include Weisdale in Shetland which now boasts the UK’s most northerly cabs, Helmsdale in Sutherland, and the first locations in Arran and Millport.”

Much of the work planned for upgrades are now on ‘Exchange Only’ (EO) lines, a historic legacy of the copper network which present unique engineering challenges. They run directly from the exchange to homes and business premises, bypassing the usual road-side cabinets which are a vital part of the fibre rollout.

Engineers have worked out an innovative way to integrate these lines into the fibre rollout, rearranging the existing network and laying hundreds of metres of new cables to reroute the lines through extra road-side cabinets, to overcome the hurdle.

Liz Mallinson, BT Scotland’s Fibre Broadband Director, added: “We’re excited to be bringing fibre technology to more places in the Highlands and Islands, especially as it involves overcoming the technical challenge in the shape of EO lines.

“We’re also urging local people to check if they’re among the thousands who can already get high speed services. There’s lots of competition in the broadband market, and people may be pleasantly surprised to discover they could be surfing at much higher speeds at a similar cost to their current service.

“Once you’ve tried superfast broadband, you’ll never look back.”


*Our deployment plans are subject to change. The expectations reflected in this plan are reasonable, but because our rollout involves risks and uncertainties, actual results may differ from those expressed or implied.

Notes to editor

Due to the current network topography and the economics of deployment, it is likely that not all premises within selected exchange areas will be able to access fibre-based broadband at the same point in the roll-out. Further announcements will be made as more areas are able to access the growing fibre infrastructure.

Argyll and Bute




Port Ellen



Arran and Cumbrae










Fort Augustus

Isle Ornsay










Shetland Islands


Western Isles



About HIE

Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) is an economic and community development agency delivering the Scottish Government’s economic strategy across a region which covers more than half of Scotland.

HIE, as part of the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband project, is leading on one of the most complex fibre broadband deployment projects in the UK. We aim to deliver services to 84% of premises across the Highlands and Islands by 2016, and are working to find ways to reach the remaining 16%. As part of that we manage Community Broadband Scotland which works with communities across Scotland to help them find sustainable ways to get faster broadband.

Equally important is our work to provide specialist online and face-to-face support for businesses and communities to help them maximise the benefits of digital connectivity.

You can visit our website at http://www.hie.co.uk follow us on Twitter @HIEScotland and @HIEdigital Also on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/highlandsandislandsenterprise

About BDUK

Superfast Britain is a UK Government programme of investment in broadband and communication infrastructure across the UK. Run by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, this investment helps businesses to grow, creates jobs and will make Britain more competitive in the global race. The portfolio is comprised of three elements:

  • £780m to extend superfast broadband to 95% of the UK by 2017
  • £150m to provide high speed broadband to businesses in 22 cities
  • £150m to improve quality and coverage of mobile phone and basic data network services
  • Administered on behalf of Government by Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK), Superfast Britain is transforming Britain by promoting growth, enabling skills and learning, and improving quality of life.

    For further information: https://www.gov.uk/broadband-delivery-uk

    About BT

    BT’s purpose is to use the power of communications to make a better world. It is one of the world’s leading providers of communications services and solutions, serving customers in more than 170 countries. Its principal activities include the provision of networked IT services globally; local, national and international telecommunications services to its customers for use at home, at work and on the move; broadband, TV and internet products and services; and converged fixed-mobile products and services. Following the acquisition of EE on 29 January 2016, BT consists principally of six customer-facing lines of business: BT Global Services, BT Business, BT Consumer, EE, BT Wholesale and Openreach.

    For the year ended 31 March 2015, BT Group’s reported revenue was £17,979m with reported profit before taxation of £2,645m.

    British Telecommunications plc (BT) is a wholly-owned subsidiary of BT Group plc and encompasses virtually all businesses and assets of the BT Group. BT Group plc is listed on stock exchanges in London and New York.