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Broadband coverage goes further

Published: 3 Nov 2016 14:45

DSSB programme reaches milestone.

An additional 660,000 Scottish homes and businesses can now connect to fibre broadband.

 

The milestone was passed with a new cabinet in Leadhills, South Lanarkshire going live, becoming the latest to be delivered through the £410 million Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband (DSSB) programme.

 

Due to efficiencies in the programme and strong fibre take-up figures, the Highlands and Islands will now see a further 6,000 premises connected in the new year – taking access to the fibre network in the region to around 86%.

 

Confirming the milestone during a parliamentary debate on realising Scotland’s full potential in a digital world, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Connectivity Fergus Ewing said:

 

“Digital technology has fundamentally changed how we live our lives, access information, learn, communicate and do business. Our fibre infrastructure is growing rapidly and on average thousands of new premises are being connected each week.

 

“Today’s milestone shows our investment in the digital superfast broadband programme is paying off. We are on track to delivering fibre access to at least 95% of premises in Scotland by the end of 2017, compared to just 66% that would have been delivered without our intervention.

 

“Higher than expected uptake of services through the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband programme has meant that we are now able to reinvest in the programme to push coverage even further and extend the benefits of reliable broadband to even more people across the Highlands and Islands.

 

“Increased connectivity, however, is only one strand in our digital ambition for Scotland. As outlined in our Programme for Government, we will bring forward a refreshed digital strategy in the new year, that outlines the role digital can play from improving skills and participation to developing our digital economy, public services and cyber resilience.

 

“We must not be complacent though. Although we are making good progress, there is much that still needs to be done to ensure all citizens can benefit from the opportunities presented by increased digitalisation.”

 

Brendan Dick, BT Scotland director, said: “The Digital Scotland rollout is a massive civil engineering undertaking, unparalleled anywhere in the UK. With any civil project on this scale there are many potential pitfalls. It’s a credit to our engineers that we’re not only on time and on budget, but able to free up more funds earlier than planned to reach more premises.

 

“In total, more than two million Scottish premises can now connect to the nation’s new, high-speed network. We share and support our public sector partners’ ambition to go further, and we’re determined to take fibre technology as far as we can. No company is doing more to meet the huge demand across Scotland for great connectivity.”

 

Background

The DSSB programme – in partnership with the Scottish Government and BT – will deliver access to fibre broadband to at least 95% of premises by the end of 2017, 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 the partnership enters its second year in April. Over 660,000 homes and business across Scotland can now access fibre broadband thanks to the programme – and in total over 86% of the country now have to access to fibre broadband.

 

Other funding partners include the UK Government through Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK), local authorities and the European Regional Development Fund. BT has invested £126 million in the two projects, in addition to its commercial rollout.