Superfast broadband – makes a healthy difference

Residents in Mauchline got just what the doctor ordered, with the arrival of fibre broadband. The village is one of the first in East Ayrshire to benefit from a scheme to deliver super-fast internet speeds and, thanks to it, ‘tele-healthcare’.

The roll-out of the £410 million Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband programme, alongside the commercial roll-out of superfast broadband, will see around 95 per cent of premises in Scotland connected to fibre broadband infrastructure by 2017/18.

The new infrastructure installed by BT engineers will mean that more than 4,500 residents in Cumnock, Mauchline and, in the coming weeks, New Cumnock will be able to access download speeds of up to 80mbps, allowing multiple users in a home or business to access the internet and download and share large files at the same time and more quickly than ever before.

Among the first to benefit are the residents of Ellisland Court on Jean Armour Drive who are now able to use Community Health Pods or ‘tele healthcare’. The tenants of the East Ayrshire Council-run complex are using the pods to monitor long term and chronic health conditions such as asthma and diabetes. Their results are then sent directly to the GP’s surgery where they are analysed, helping save time and money for both patients and doctors.

The Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband project is being delivered in two parts – one covering the Highlands and Islands and the other covering the rest of Scotland. Both projects are being delivered on the ground by BT, which is investing £126m in the projects in addition to its commercial investments in fibre.

In total, more than three quarters of a million homes and business premises are expected to benefit from the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband initiative. Funding partners include the Scottish Government, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, the UK Government through Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK), local authorities and the European Development Fund.

Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “Today marks an important milestone for the people and businesses of Mauchline as well as for the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband partnership.

“This programme will lay the foundations of a world class digital Scotland, by extending fibre broadband access to parts of Scotland that wouldn’t otherwise be served commercially.

“The scale of the challenge of delivering fibre broadband into rural Scotland outstrips any other part of the UK and will generate significant economic benefits, including new jobs and increased productivity.

“This is an important step towards ensuring that Scotland has world-class digital connectivity by 2020. Our investment, and that of our partners in the project, will extend access to superfast broadband across Scotland. This will be a key factor in ensuring Scotland’s long-term economic prosperity.”

Leader of East Ayrshire Council, Councillor Douglas Reid said: “This is a great example of partnership working in practice, making a real difference to local people. The launch involves our health and social care team, the Scottish Government’s Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband programme, BT, NHS Ayrshire and Arran, Kilmarnock firm Microtech and the local GP practice. Thanks to the new connections healthcare in our communities is set to improve by bringing routine checks to the people who need them, saving on time consuming trips to surgeries, allowing more frequent monitoring and giving people the power and confidence to influence and improve their own health.”

Councillor Reid, who chairs the Shadow Integration Board, overseeing the integration of health and social care services in East Ayrshire, added: “Being able to roll out these pods in the heart of our communities is one of many tangible benefits of superfast broadband which will make a real difference to peoples’ lives.”

James McClafferty, BT Scotland partnership director, said: “As Scotland’s only national network provider, BT is proud of its part in the programme. It’s great to see fibre broadband arriving in Mauchline, after months of behind-the-scenes planning.

“It’s one of the first communities in Scotland to benefit from the Digital Scotland superfast broadband partnership, with many more to follow. We hope local people and businesses will welcome this milestone and will enjoy making the most of the technology.”

Ellisland Court resident Robert “Nicky” Nicholas said: “I’m really pleased to have this pod here. We already have exercise classes and weight monitoring clinics which are open to the local community so we’re used to taking some responsibility for and working to keep healthy, but this is a great idea. For me it means I don’t have to make appointments for routine checks and take up surgery time which could be used by others. It’s here on my doorstep and I can use it whenever necessary. For people who are less mobile and have difficulty getting out and about it will be a godsend.”

Anne Fisher, Public Health Nurse from the Keep Well Team said: “Regular monitoring of issues such as blood pressure, blood sugar, weight and lung function can make a huge difference to the long term health of people with chronic conditions.

“For many local residents having this facility on the doorstep will enable them to have these checks more regularly and at their own convenience. At the same time we will also be able to use the pods to give them targeted messages about their health and wellbeing and they can use the system to access further information about Council and NHS services and facilities. We are delighted that the rollout of Superfast Broadband has enabled us to start installing these pods throughout East Ayrshire.”

The Community Pods, which will be rolled out to community hubs throughout East Ayrshire in the coming months, are maintained by Kilmarnock based company Microtech, which provides professional IT Support and Maintenance to a wide range of clients in the private and public sectors.

Sara Budge, Programme Director of Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband, said: “This launch of fibre broadband in East Ayrshire really highlights the difference fibre broadband can make. I am delighted that already local residents are able to use fibre broadband to keep themselves healthy. Anyone wanting to receive broadband should contact their service provider so that they too can benefit from it.”

Communications Minister Ed Vaizey said: “This fantastic news marks the next stage of a remarkable transformation of broadband in East Ayrshire and the Government’s roll out will see around 95 per cent of premises in Scotland 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 over £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.”

The fibre connection at Mauchline is one of the first of a programme of installations throughout Ayrshire from the £410 million Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband partnership designed to extend fibre broadband access to areas of Scotland which would not otherwise be served commercially. East Ayrshire Council has contributed £1.2 million towards the project.

Find out more about the programme at www.digitalscotland.org


About DCMS Broadband Delivery UK
Superfast Britain is a 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