Ross-Shire, Orkney and Sutherland join the fibre broadband roll-out

Residents and businesses in areas of Ross-shire, Orkney and Sutherland are to join the growing number of people able to access fibre broadband in the Highlands and Islands as part of a publicly funded project.

Roll-out started in Buckie in Moray in February and 14,500 premises in Moray and Highland can now get better connected through the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband project.

Led in the region by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) and delivered by private partner BT, Muir of Ord, Alness, Invergordon, Tain, Kirkwall and Stromness are among the latest communities where BT will begin upgrade work during the next six months.

There are additional locations in Moray, Shetland, Lochaber and Argyll. (see list below).

When the project roll-out is added to commercial roll-out figures, the number of premises currently able to get fibre based broadband across the region is around 50,000. Fibre broadband offers speeds of up to 80 Mbps*.

Nicola Sturgeon, Deputy First Minister, said: “Today marks another important milestone for Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband partnership. The scale of the challenge of delivering fibre broadband across Scotland is greater than any other part of the UK and indeed, much of Europe.

“It’s fantastic news that more communities and businesses around the country will soon begin to see the benefits of high quality digital connectivity, making them more economically viable in the long term.

“However, this is not the limit of Scotland’s ambition. The Scottish Government’s aim is to deliver world class connectivity by 2020, enabling people across Scotland to connect any time, any place, anywhere using any device.”

Stuart Robertson, Director of Digital Highlands and Islands, said: “The public sector is investing £146m in this three year project which will see coverage extend from around 21% of premises through commercial roll-out to over 80% across the region. We want to ensure the Highlands and Islands is able to benefit from the social and economic advantages of a digitally connected Scotland.

“We are seeing the areas reached ramp up and many of the communities announced today could be in line to get services before the end of the year. When complete these upgrades will reach around another 23,000 homes and businesses. To achieve this BT is also putting in new infrastructure to reach people currently connected directly to their telephone exchange.”

Most homes and businesses receive their services through green street cabinets which, when upgraded, can deliver ‘fibre to the cabinet” or “FTTC” technology. This brings the fibre to the cabinet and then the services run on existing copper wires to people’s homes.

However, to deliver services to many of those customers connected directly to an exchange, known as (EO) customers, BT is building new cabinets. The first customers linked in this way are likely to be able to access services before the end of the year.

The Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband initiative consists of two projects – one covering the Highlands and Islands area and the other covering the Rest of Scotland.

In total, more than three quarters of a million homes and business premises are expected to benefit from the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband initiative. In the Highlands and Islands, the £146m project is led by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) and funding partners include the Scottish Government, HIE, and Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK). BT, the selected private sector partner who is rolling out the open access fibre network, is investing £19 million in the area.

Brendan Dick, BT Scotland director, said: “The advent of fibre broadband in these latest communities will mean a major boost for local homes and businesses. With more adults working from home than ever before and more people shopping or watching TV online, today’s announcement will help Scotland work and play faster.

“We’re really proud of our role at the heart of Scotland, delivering critical infrastructure which helps the nation to compete on a world stage. We could only reach the parts of the Highlands and Islands that lay beyond commercial deployment by working with others, and I find it really heartening that so many of our smaller communities now stand to benefit. Our ongoing deployment of fibre across the country is one of the biggest civil engineering projects happening in Scotland today and will be to the advantage of generations to come.”

UK Government Communications Minister Ed Vaizey said: “This fantastic news marks the next stage of a remarkable transformation of broadband in Scotland which will see around 95 per cent of premises connected to fibre broadband infrastructure by 2017/18. We understand how important access to superfast broadband is, which is why the UK Government is investing more than £100m in broadband for Scotland. The widespread access to superfast broadband that our rollout will deliver will provide a tremendous boost to the Scottish economy.”


Area (Exchange)
Fibre to the Cabinet
Quarff (Cunningsburgh)
Embo (Dornoch)
Muir of Ord

Area (Exchange)
Exchange Only lines
Muir of Ord