Telephone and standard broadband connections are made over a copper cable that links your property to the network. To reach the network, this copper cable can either be connected to a green roadside cabinet near your premises, or sometimes the copper cable connects directly to your local telephone exchange. This latter type of connection is what we call an ‘exchange only’ or EO line. History and a large number of small communities spread over a large geographic area means that there are considerably more EO lines in Scotland than in the rest of the UK. Digital Scotland has built a wealth of expertise in dealing with the challenges of EO lines and is now amongst the leaders worldwide when it comes to overcoming these issues.

The most common technology being used to bring fast fibre broadband to homes and businesses across Scotland is ‘fibre to the cabinet’. With this technology, engineers build a second fibre cabinet next to a green roadside copper cabinet. The fibre cabinet is connected up to the fibre network and then to the copper cabinet, bringing faster fibre broadband to the homes and businesses served by the copper cabinet. The problem is that for homes and businesses with EO lines, there is no copper cabinet already in place as their lines connect directly to the telephone exchange. So to enable these premises for fibre broadband, the engineers have to build not just one but TWO new cabinets – both a copper cabinet and a fibre cabinet, as well as connect up the two and re-arrange the lines.


We have already connected hundreds of thousands of Scottish properties with EO lines to the fibre network and we are continuing to do so through a mix of fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) and fibre to the premise (FTTP) solutions.

If you have an EO line, we regret that it can be hard for us to tell you exactly when you will be able to connect to fibre broadband (or whether you will definitely be able to do so) as well as to let you know what speed you will get in advance. The location of the two cabinets and the condition of the existing copper wiring are influencing factors and this information is usually not available until fairly late on in the installation process. Our engineers are working hard to find the best solutions in each area for as many people with EO lines as possible and to carry out all the complex work required just as soon as possible.

The good news is that the vast majority of people with EO lines in Scotland will be able to connect to fibre broadband by the end of the programme and they will be able to enjoy exactly the same fast broadband speeds, reliability and quality as everyone else.


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