Scotland hits 1.5 million fibre broadband milestone

More than 1.5 million households and businesses across Scotland can now connect to high-speed fibre broadband, BT announced today.

The landmark milestone has been achieved through BT’s commercial fibre roll-out and the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband partnerships with the Scottish Government, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, UK Government, Scottish local authorities and the European Regional Development Fund.

In order to provide 1.5m premises with access to high quality digital connectivity, engineers from Openreach, BT’s local network business, have laid 4,500Km (2800 miles) of fibre cable – equivalent to walking the West Highland Way 30 times – and built more than 4,700 roadside green cabinets.

The 1.5m includes homes and business premises from Gretna in Dumfries and Galloway to Lerwick on Shetland via more than 173,000 premises in Glasgow; 152,000 in Edinburgh, 98,000 in Aberdeen, 56,000 in Dundee and 26,000 in Inverness, with almost 1.3m premises passed by BT’s commercial rollout and more than 220,000 included in the Digital Scotland project to date.

The Scottish Government’s Deputy First Minister John Swinney said: “The fact that over 1.5M people now have access to fibre broadband is another positive piece of news. The scale of delivering fibre broadband across our communities in Scotland shouldn’t be underestimated and this announcement shows how hard engineers are working.

“We are still in the early stages of the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband programme, and without it thousands of Scottish homes and businesses simply wouldn’t have had access to high-speed technology.

“It’s a fundamental part of the Scottish Government’s aim to deliver world class connectivity by 2020, enabling people across Scotland to connect any time, any place, anywhere using any device.”

UK Government Digital Economy Minister Ed Vaizey said: "This is tremendous news for Scotland, and I'm delighted that 1.5m homes and businesses have now got access to a fast and reliable internet connection. The UK government is investing £100 million in superfast broadband for Scotland and our rollout has already reached more than 200,000 properties that the commercial rollout would not have covered."

Brendan Dick, BT Scotland director, said: “BT has been a driving force in transforming Scotland’s broadband landscape, passing another 10,000 households with the technology every week last year. We’ve recruited hundreds of extra engineers and invested hundreds of millions of pounds through our own commercial fibre broadband programme and the Digital Scotland partnership.

“Today is a major milestone in Scotland’s digital revolution. Access to secure, high-speed communications will drive the future economic prosperity of our country. It’s vital that people embrace the digital revolution and make the most of the new infrastructure. Together with our partners, we will continue to work to meet Scotland’s ambition of delivering world class connectivity by 2020.”

The Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband programme aims to provide fibre broadband infrastructure to parts of Scotland not included in commercial providers’ investment plans. It consists of two projects - one is led by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) for its region and the other covers the rest of Scotland.

Combined with current commercial roll-out plans, 85 per cent of premises in Scotland will have access to fibre broadband by the end of 2015/16 and around 95 per cent by the end of 2017/18.