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Read news and articles on the progress of the superfast broadband rollout in Scotland and more.

Digital Scotland in top gear - as programme reaches a new milestone

Monday, 27 July 2020

MORE than 950,000 premises across Scotland are now able to connect to faster fibre broadband through the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband infrastructure build.

The highly successful, £463M partnership programme has reached the ‘amazing’ milestone as it starts to draw to a close in its seventh year of deployment. The total includes more than 110,000 extra premises which were not originally expected to benefit.

Across the country, Openreach engineers have laid a whopping 16,730KM of cable – enough to stretch to the South Pole and beyond  – including 400KM of sub-sea cable, while 5,078 new fibre street cabinets are now live.

Before DSSB began there were no plans for commercial fibre broadband rollout in Orkney, Shetland or the Western Isles – now more than 80%[1] of premises in these local authorities can access fibre.

To mark the achievement, Connectivity Minister Paul Wheelhouse paid a physically distanced visit to Scottish Borders business Ridelines to hear how their superfast internet connection has helped them during lockdown.

The company, based in Innerleithen, provides mountain bike courses and tuition in the Tweed Valley hills and countryside.

Minister for Energy, Connectivity and the Islands, Paul Wheelhouse, said: “I’m delighted that the programme has far exceeded its expected delivery target at the outset and has gone on to provide better broadband technology to more than 950,000 homes and businesses all over Scotland - an amazing achievement. In the Scottish Borders alone, access to superfast broadband has also increased from 21% of premises in Jan 2014 to almost 88% now and, while we are putting in place investment to complete coverage, the progress made since 2014 is something that the DSSB team can be rightly proud of.

“Having fast and reliable internet is absolutely vital to communities across the country. As we emerge from lockdown, it helps businesses stay connected with customers and colleagues, as well as helping families to stay in touch, learn, work, play and shop – over 65% of people who have fibre available to them have already signed up to receive services and that is more than double the take up that had been modelled.

“That’s why it was fantastic to find out how Ridelines, an excellent local business, has been benefitting from the infrastructure, delivered as part of the DSSB programme, and that it has made such a difference to the day-to-day running of the business before and after Covid-19 and to the business’ owner and his family as well.”

Robert Thorburn, Openreach’s Partnership Director for Scotland, said: “Bringing better broadband to nearly a million homes across rural Scotland – on time and on budget – has been a massive team effort.

“We’ve seen how invaluable connectivity has been to our communities during lockdown – and it’s just as vital to help rural economies and businesses like Ridelines during recovery. The fibre cables reaching deep into rural Scotland will also help to extend other technologies, like 4G and 5G mobile services.

“There’s more to do – and the success of our Digital Scotland partnership gives the nation a far-reaching fibre platform to build on for the next stage of the journey.”

Fibre broadband offers fast and reliable broadband connections2 and there are many suppliers in the marketplace to choose from. People need to sign up for the new, faster services with an internet service provider, as upgrades are not automatic.

The DSSB project has been delivered through two projects – led by Highlands and Islands Enterprise in its area and the Scottish Government in the rest of Scotland. Funding partners include the Scottish Government, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, UK Government through Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK), BT Group, local authorities and the EU via the European Regional Development Fund.

Sara Budge, DSSB’s Programme Director said: “I’m immensely  proud to be able to say that over 950K premises across Scotland that are now able to benefit from fibre broadband thanks to the DSSB programme, whether that’s to transform the operations and marketing of SMEs, being able to work from home easily or just catch up with friends and family online the programme has laid the platform for Scotland’s digital future.”

Andy Weir, Owner of Ridelines, said: “Like any small business, the past few months have been challenging for us – but having fast, reliable broadband has helped. I’ve been able to upload blogs and videos to help keep in touch with clients. Before we had superfast broadband this would have been frustratingly impossible.

“We’ve also been able to communicate with our team and the wider biking industry through online face to face meetings, which has been a huge benefit to our business recovery.”