It was top marks for Digital Scotland this week as pupils from Comrie Primary School helped welcome the arrival of fibre broadband in the village.
Around 800 households and businesses in Comrie can now access high-speed fibre services as part of the £410 million Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband programme.
Local people need to sign up for the new services with an internet service provider, as upgrades are not automatic.
The premises join around 23,400 in Perth and Kinross which are now able to access fibre broadband through the Digital Scotland rollout. Other areas now live thanks to the programme include Abernethy, Birnam, Longforgan and Rait, with the first connections also now live in Pitlochry and significant new coverage in Auchterarder, building on earlier work there.
More local coverage will follow as engineers from Openreach, BT’s local network business, continue work on the ground.
Pupils from Comrie Primary School helped with the celebrations at a special event on Tuesday. They joined members of the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband programme to unveil one of the new street cabinets that will serve part of the village.
The pupils also climbed aboard the Digital Scotland Fibre Showcase, a specially-adapted vehicle which features all of the equipment used in the roll-out of fibre broadband.
It includes kit 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.
Head Teacher at Comrie Primary School, Ruth Billingham, said: “It was fantastic to have the Digital Scotland team visit the school and involve some of the pupils in helping welcome fibre broadband in the village. Having the fibre showcase at the school was also a great opportunity for pupils to see the amount of solid engineering work that’s involved in connecting up communities to fibre broadband. I think the children now have a very good understanding of how beneficial this can be.”
Fibre broadband offers fast and reliable broadband connections at speeds of up to 80Mbps* and there are many suppliers in the marketplace to choose from.
Whether you own a business, work from home or want to keep in touch with friends and family, fibre broadband enables multiple users to connect to the internet at high speeds and get better, faster access to online services.
The Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband programme is providing fibre broadband infrastructure to parts of Scotland not included in commercial providers’ investment plans. Combined with current commercial roll-out plan, the programme will deliver access to fibre broadband to around 95% of premises by the end of March 2018.
Delivered through two projects – led by Highlands and Islands Enterprise in their area and the Scottish Government in the rest of Scotland – the partnership currently reaches more than 590,000 premises across the country, with the rollout continuing at pace.
A small number of homes and businesses in the Comrie area are served by ‘Exchange Only’ lines. These run directly from the exchange to the premises – bypassing the usual road-side cabinets which are integral to the fibre rollout. Engineers will rearrange the existing network, laying new cables to reroute lines through extra road-side cabinets, to overcome this challenge.
Sara Budge, Programme Director for Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband, said: “It’s wonderful news to hear that many residents and businesses in and around Comrie now have access to fibre broadband thanks to the programme, with more coverage to follow.
“I hope the children from Comrie Primary School had fun visiting to our Digital Scotland Fibre Showcase and found it insightful in hearing about 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 children get the best out of their education.”
BT is investing £126m in the Digital Scotland rollout in addition to its commercial investments in fibre broadband.
Liz Mallinson, BT Scotland’s Fibre Broadband Director, ended: “Thousands of people in dozens of communities across Perth and Kinross can now connect to their best ever broadband speeds when they sign up with a service provider. There’s lots of competition out there and people may find they could be surfing at much higher speeds at a similar cost to their current service.
“We’d like to thank the school for having us – it’s great that local pupils were able to get an insight into how high-speed technology powers the internet and learn about a very positive side to a career in engineering.”
Local people can check the interactive map on the Digital Scotland website (http://www.scotlandsuperfast.com/where-when/) 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
*These are the top wholesale speeds available from Openreach to all service providers; speeds offered by service providers may vary.
Notes to editors
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.
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