Thousands of homes across the north-east will soon have access to full-fibre broadband for the first time.
Openreach has today outlined plans to build ultrafast, ultra-reliable full fibre brandband to at least three million more homes and businesses – including more than 300,000 in Scotland – in some of the UK’s hardest to serve communities.
As part of the plans, more than 160 exchange areas across Scotland will be upgraded over the next five years, benefiting places such as Fort William Oban, Turriff and Pitlochry.
Island communities such as Portree, Kirkwall and Lerwick – which have previously recorded some of the slowest broadband speeds in the UK – are also included.
In total, more than 60,000 households and businesses across the Highlands and islands will benefit, along with 30,000 in Aberdeenshire.
In Aberdeenshire alone, it is predicted that 30,000 homes will benefit from the rollout.
Welcoming the investment, Finance Secretary Kate Forbes said: “This is good news for Scotland. The roll-out of ultrafast broadband to so many more rural communities is vitally important, especially as we focus on recovering from the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Continued commercial build is an important part of the Reaching 100% Programme’s aim to provide access to superfast speeds for all premises.
“This focus on rural and hard-to-reach areas is exactly what I want to see and I look forward to hearing that these 300,000 addresses are connected.”
Planning today for internet tomorrow
When the new upgrades to rural locations are eventually complete, it will not only result in superior broadband but also a reduction in the need for taxpayer subsidies to upgrade.
It is expected that the project to link up the rest of rural Scotland will take five-years.
The north and north-east rollout is part of a £15 billion investment plan to make the technology available to 3.2 million premises and homes in isolated locations across the UK.
Openreach has said it aims to have the infrastructure available to 25 million premises by the mid-to-late 2020s.
10 times faster than average home broadband speeds
Robert Thorburn, Openreach Scotland’s strategic infrastructure director, added: “Building a new broadband network across Scotland is a massive challenge and some parts of the country will inevitably require further public funding.
“But our expanded build plan means any future taxpayer subsidies can be limited to only the hardest to connect homes and businesses.
“And with investments from other builders, we’d hope to see that shrink further.
“The impact of full fibre broadband – stretching from increased economic prosperity and international competitiveness to higher employment and environmental benefits – will be a massive boost for Scotland and the rest of the UK.
“We’re also delighted to continue bucking the national trend by creating more Scottish jobs, with apprentices joining in their droves to start their careers.”
The plans also include an extension to the company’s biggest ever recruitment drive, with a further 1,000 new roles being created in 2021 on top of the 2,500 jobs announced in December 2020 – of which 275 were in Scotland.
Mr Thornburn added: “We’ll publish further location details and timescales on our website as detailed surveys and planning are completed and the build progresses. In the meantime, people can also check what’s already available – which includes around 400,000 homes and businesses across Scotland that can already access full fibre on the Openreach network.”
The company has boasted that the new upgrades will allow people to access the internet 10 times faster than any other average home broadband.