Pupils at Catrine Primary school had a lesson with a difference when the Digital Scotland Fibre Showcase visited them.
The East Ayrshire village of Catrine now has more than 1,100 homes and businesses which can access fibre services thanks to the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband programme.
Fibre broadband enables multiple users in a home or business to connect to the internet, download and share large files at the same time more quickly than ever before. In order to take advantage of the higher speeds now available, residents should contact their service provider.
The properties in Catrine join over 12,200 homes and businesses in East Ayrshire which are able to access fibre broadband through the Digital Scotland rollout – with more local coverage to follow.
Other areas in East Ayrshire that are live thanks to the programme include Galston, Drongan, Dalrymple and Mauchline – with additional coverage in Cumnock building on BT’s commercial rollout there.
The latest premises are among more than 394,000 across Scotland which can now access fibre broadband services at speeds of up to 80Mbps* as part of the £410 million Digital Scotland rollout.
The Digital Scotland rollout is being delivered on the ground by engineers from BT’s local network business, Openreach. With more than 1,600 new cabinets now installed across Scotland to house the fibre connections, the project underpins the Scottish Government’s aim of delivering world class connectivity by 2020.
The event was arranged with the help of The Catrine Community Trust. Thirty lucky P6 and P7 pupils from the primary school were able to climb aboard the new Digital Scotland Fibre Showcase, a specially-adapted vehicle which features all of the equipment used in the roll-out of fibre broadband.
The unique vehicle includes equipment which is familiar to members of the public - like the new green street cabinets - as well as some of the things they don’t often see, such as how fibre-optic cables are ‘blown’ underground, as part of the deployment. Representatives from Digital Scotland discussed the huge benefits which fibre broadband can provide and how it can help them in their future.
During the visit on Wednesday, residents were also able to visit the showcase at a special drop-in event on Mill Square, where the Digital Scotland team were on hand to get people up to speed with the technology and provide advice on areas such as signing up with a service provider.
Roberta Schendel, principal teacher at Catrine Primary School, said: “It was a pleasure to have the Digital Scotland team visit the school. It was a great opportunity for the children to see what benefits a fibre connection can provide, as well as all the amount of work that happens when installing fibre broadband in an area. The children were very interested to see the differences between the existing cables and the new fibre cables.
The children were excited by the possibilities that superfast broadband may offer and discussed how this might be of benefit to their school work.”
East Ayrshire Council has contributed £1.1 million to the Digital Scotland rollout in addition to block funding from all the Scottish local authorities.
Councillor Jim Buchanan, Cabinet Member for Economy at East Ayrshire Council, said: “It’s really exciting to hear that so many residences in Catrine can now connect to fibre broadband. It’s good to see this project reaching more communities in our area, contributing towards the aim of connecting most of our homes and businesses to a high-speed network.
“Broadband will make a big difference to residents, especially within education where you can access a number of resource materials online and carry out research on other schools, colleges and universities for your child’s future.”
Sara Budge, Programme Director for Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband, said: “It’s great news that many residents and businesses in and around Catrine are now able to receive fibre broadband thanks to the programme, with more local coverage to follow.
“I also hope that the children at Catrine Primary School enjoyed visiting our brand new Digital Scotland Fibre Showcase and found it insightful in finding out what fibre broadband can provide and how it’s delivered.
“The difference that fibre broadband can make is amazing, giving much more flexibility whether it’s at work or in the home. Fibre services will have a huge benefit to those in any level of education. With the number of resourcing websites, interactive sites and video streaming channels available, it’ll really bring any subject to life and help your child get the best out of their education.”
BT is investing £126 million in the Digital Scotland programme, in addition to its commercial rollout of fibre broadband in Scotland.
Brendan Dick, BT Scotland Director, said: “Thousands more people in East Ayrshire now have access to their best ever broadband speeds thanks to the Digital Scotland project. It’s great that local pupils were able to help us celebrate its arrival in Catrine and get an insight into how high-speed technology powers the internet. It’s also a chance for us to show a very positive side to a career in engineering.”
Local people can check the interactive map on the Digital Scotland website (http://www.digitalscotland.org/whereandwhen) to find out if they can get the service and further information is also available on Twitter @ScotSuperfast or Facebook at www.facebook.com/scotlandsuperfast
Photo caption: Members from Digital Scotland and pupils from Catrine Primary school celebrating the arrival of fibre broadband.
*These are the top wholesale speeds available to all service providers; speeds offered by service providers may vary.
While many premises in enabled areas now have access to fibre broadband, some may not be able to connect due to network topography and other technological factors. To be sure that you can get fibre broadband, check with your internet service provider.
The Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband programme aims to provide fibre broadband infrastructure to parts of Scotland not included in commercial providers’ investment plans. 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.
The Digital Scotland rollout consists of two projects – one covering the Highlands and Islands area and the other covering the rest of Scotland. Funding partners include the Scottish Government, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, the UK Government through Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK), local authorities and the European Regional Development Fund as well as BT.
The Rest of Scotland project is being supported through £157.6million public funding including £50 million from BDUK and BT’s private investment of £106.7million. The public funding includes funding from all 27 local authorities in the project area and additional funding from 14 local authorities who are investing around £51 million to increase coverage, meet local priorities and address the digital divide in their areas. Coupled with the investment in the Highlands and Islands region announced earlier in the year, it brings the total investment in fibre broadband in Scotland to more than £410 million.
The Rest of Scotland project area includes the following local authority areas: Aberdeen City, Aberdeenshire, Angus, parts of Argyll & Bute, Clackmannanshire, Dumfries & Galloway, Dundee City, East Ayrshire, East Dunbartonshire, East Lothian, East Renfrewshire, City of Edinburgh, Falkirk, Fife, Glasgow City, Inverclyde, Midlothian, North Ayrshire (apart from the Islands), North Lanarkshire, Perth & Kinross, Renfrewshire, Scottish Borders, South Ayrshire, South Lanarkshire, Stirling, West Dunbartonshire, West Lothian.
The Highlands and Islands broadband project is being led by Highlands and Islands Enterprise and includes the following local authority areas: Highland, Moray, Orkney Islands, Shetland Islands, Eilean Siar (Western Isles), parts of Argyll and Bute and part of North Ayrshire (Islands).
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:
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
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. BT consists principally of five customer-facing lines of business: BT Global Services, BT Business, BT Consumer, 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.
For more information, visit www.btplc.com.