More than 20,000 households and businesses across the Scottish Borders now have access to their fastest-ever broadband speeds – thanks to the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband rollout.
New street cabinets to deliver high-speed services in Jedburgh, Ashkirk, Swinton and West Linton are among the latest to go live.
To benefit from the faster connection speeds, residents need to sign up for a fibre service with their chosen provider, as upgrades aren’t automatic.
More local communities are now set to follow, with more than 600 premises in Drochil Castle, Gordon and Grantshouse next in line for a fibre boost thanks to the £410m Digital Scotland partnership, led by the Scottish Government.
Extra coverage is also planned for Innerleithen, building on the existing fibre network there.Engineers expect the first fibre connections to be available in the villages by this summer* as Openreach, BT’s local network business, continues work on the ground.
Almost all the work planned for the next tranche of upgrades will be on ‘Exchange Only’ (EO) lines, a historic legacy of the copper network which present unique engineering challenges. They run directly from the exchange to homes and business premises, bypassing the usual road-side cabinets which are a vital part of the fibre rollout.
Engineers have worked out an innovative way to integrate these lines into the fibre rollout, rearranging the existing network and laying hundreds of metres of new cables to reroute the lines through extra road-side cabinets, to overcome the hurdle.
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, research homework or keep in touch with friends and family, fibre broadband enables multiple users to connect to the internet and get better access to online services and faster uploads and downloads.
Scottish Borders Council’s Executive Member for Economic Development, Councillor Stuart Bell, said: “It’s great news that some of our smaller communities are the next in line for a superfast boost, especially as exchange-only lines were once thought to be out of reach of fibre technology.
“We’re determined that everyone in Scottish Borders will have access to digital services as well as the skills and confidence to go online and use them, and today’s update shows we’re making good progress.”
The Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband programme underpins the Scottish Government’s aim for Scotland to become a world class digital nation by 2020. It will deliver access to fibre broadband to around 95% of premises by the end of March 2018, when combined with existing commercial roll-out plans.
Delivered through two projects – led by Highlands and Islands Enterprise in their area and the Scottish Government in the rest of Scotland project – the partnership currently reaches more than 500,000 premises across the country.
Other funding partners include the UK Government through Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK), local authorities and the European Regional Development Fund. BT is investing £126 million in the two projects, on top of its commercial rollout.
Sara Budge, Programme Director for Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband, said: “Many residents and businesses are now able to sign up for fibre broadband thanks to our programme, with more local coverage just around the corner.
“As with any engineering rollout on this scale there are risks and things do change from time to time, so we’ve been making improvements to our website to make sure people can get the very latest information with just a few clicks.
“You can find out all about the rollout and the status of the street cabinet you’re connected to, and sign up to be kept in the loop for progress reports, at www.scotlandsuperfast.com.”
Liz Mallinson, BT Scotland’s Fibre Broadband Director, added: “We’re excited to be bringing fibre technology to more rural parts of Scottish Borders, especially as it involves overcoming a major technical challenge in the shape of our historic EO lines.
“We’re also urging local people to check if they’re among the thousands who can already get high speed services. There’s lots of competition in the broadband market, and people may be pleasantly surprised to discover they could be surfing at much higher speeds at a similar cost to their current service.
“Once you’ve tried superfast broadband, you’ll never look back.”
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 atwww.facebook.com/scotlandsuperfast
*Our deployment plans are subject to change. The expectations reflected in this plan are reasonable, but because our rollout involves risks and uncertainties, actual results may differ from those expressed or implied.
**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.
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. Following the acquisition of EE on 29 January 2016, BT consists principally of six customer-facing lines of business: BT Global Services, BT Business, BT Consumer, EE, 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.
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