There are two separate, geographically distinct broadband projects currently underway in Scotland. One covers the Highlands and islands – including Highland, Moray, Orkney Islands, Shetland Islands, Eilean Siar and offshore parts of North Ayrshire, as well as Argyll and Bute – while the other covers the rest of Scotland, which comprises everywhere else, including Edinburgh and Glasgow.
To date, around £410m has been invested in the programme, including £126m of private investment from BT and £157.6m of public funding, including £50m of Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) cash.
Digital Scotland has now delivered fibre-to-the-cabinet service from 600 new cabinets in more than 120 locations across Scotland, and laid 300km of sub-sea cable and 2,400km of cable on land.
Deputy first minister Nicola Sturgeon said the roll-out of superfast broadband will enable more households to connect to fibre broadband services for the first time, as well as providing businesses with the opportunity to enhance their services.
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“This is the fastest roll-out of its kind anywhere in the UK, passing 150,000 premises in record time – an engineering feat of the kind for which Scotland is renowned,” she said.
Superfast broadband project in early stages
Sturgeon added the Scottish government wanted to go beyond Westminster’s commitment to bring superfast broadband to 95% of UK homes by the end of 2017.
“It’s fundamental to the Scottish government’s aim to deliver world-class connectivity by 2020, enabling people across Scotland to connect any time, any place, anywhere, using any device,” she said.
However, despite having taken just seven months to reach the 150,000 mark, Digital Scotland still has a mountain to climb if it is to achieve its aim of bringing superfast broadband to more than 750,000 premises.
BT Scotland fibre programme director Liz Mallinson said the project was a massive civil-engineering challenge.
“A lot of the early work has been in planning, surveying and building central infrastructure, so it’s really a remarkable achievement to see fibre broadband services already reaching 150,000 homes and business premises,” she said.
BT claimed 1.4 million people in Scotland could access fibre broadband on the Openreach network as of 10 November 2014.
Stuart Robertson, director of digital at Highlands and Islands Enterprise – one of the bodies helping to fund Digital Scotland – said the network would change the way people in the most remote parts of Scotland lived their lives.
“It’s great news we have now brought fibre-based broadband to more than 30,000 homes and businesses in Argyll, Highland, Moray and Shetland – and this is just the start. We are also making great progress both on land and sub-sea, building the network which will bring better broadband closer to all,” he said.