Launch of first ‘rest of Scotland’ fibre broadband connections
Homes and businesses in a rural Aberdeenshire village are the first to benefit from a scheme to deliver superfast internet speeds.
Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon today (Monday) announced that the village of Kirkton of Skene is now able to connect to the high-speed fibre broadband thanks to the roll-out of the £410 million Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband programme.
BT engineers are currently working to enable further fibre broadband cabinets in Dumfries and Galloway, Dundee, Stirling, Perth, Angus as well as South and East Ayrshire.
The new infrastructure will mean that some residents will be able to access download speeds of up to 80mbps, allowing multiple users in a home or business to access the internet and download and share large files at the same time and more quickly than ever before.
Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “Today marks an important milestone for the people and businesses of Kirkton of Skene as well as for the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband partnership.
“This programme will lay the foundations of a world class digital Scotland, by extending fibre broadband access to parts of Scotland that wouldn’t otherwise be served commercially.
“The scale of the challenge of delivering fibre broadband into rural Scotland outstrips any other part of the UK and will generate significant economic benefits, including new jobs and increased productivity.
“This is an important step towards ensuring that Scotland has world-class digital connectivity by 2020. Our investment, and that of our partners in the project, will extend access to superfast broadband across Scotland. This will be a key factor in ensuring Scotland’s long-term economic prosperity.”
The Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband project is being delivered in two parts – one covering the Highlands and Islands and the other covering the rest of Scotland. Both projects are being delivered on the ground by BT.
In February the first superfast broadband connections, delivered through the Highland and Islands project, went live in Buckie, with the Kirkton of Skene launch the first for the ‘rest of Scotland’ project.
Aberdeenshire Council Leader, Councillor Jim Gifford, said: “This is an exciting day for the residents of Kirkton of Skene who are among the first to benefit from fibre broadband under the Digital Scotland programme.
“Improving digital connectivity for homes and business in Aberdeenshire is a key priority for the council and we have invested more than any other local authority in the UK to make this happen.
“Today’s cabinet launch is a significant step towards our goal of connecting Aberdeenshire’s homes and businesses to superfast broadband and improving the way they access a whole range of information and public services.”
Alongside the commercial roll-out of superfast broadband, the Digital Scotland programme will see around 95 per cent of premises in Scotland connected to fibre broadband infrastructure by 2017/18.
Brendan Dick, Director, BT Scotland, said: “Today’s announcement is a landmark in a massive civil engineering project which will boost local economies and transform the communications landscape. The oil and gas sector is a vital part of Scotland’s economy and the arrival of fibre broadband in rural Aberdeenshire helps take the surrounding area onto the superhighway.
“This will enable local businesses to contribute on an international stage. Like oil and gas, digital connectivity is critical to Scotland’s economic health. As a company at the heart of Scotland, we’re proud of our part in the Digital Scotland project.”
The rest of Scotland project is being led by the Scottish Government, working together with local authorities and Broadband Delivery UK in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.
BT, the private sector partner selected to roll out the open access fibre network, is investing £106 million, in addition to its commercial investment in fibre broadband. Once the network is in place, any internet service provider – including but not limited to BT – can offer fibre broadband services to consumers over it.
Scotland’s 32 local authorities are jointly contributing £40 million to the programme as a whole, with 14 authorities choosing to further supplement their funding in the Rest of Scotland project, totalling £50.65 million, with Aberdeenshire Council contributing £16 million of the additional funding.
Further information about the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband project can be found atwww.digitalscotland.org