INNERLEITHEN has reached the finish line, with superfast broadband now available to 2,000 homes and firms.
And it is expected to become the first place in Scotland to receive ultra-fast speeds later in the year.
The Tweeddale town and Cardrona was announced as a recipient of the upgrade after winning BT’s Race to Infinity back in January 2011.
At the time, it was picked as one of six communities in the UK – the only in Scotland – to benefit after a public vote saw nearly 2,000 votes cast in Innerleithen’s favour.
Almost every home and business served by the local exchange is expected to see faster broadband speeds, with more than 96 per cent able to receive a super-fast broadband service.
Innerleithen Community Council vice chair Brian McCrow headed the campaign in 2010, launched after he noted speeds of just half a megabit in his Cardrona home were causing him and others in the area huge problems.
Following the upgrade, Mr McCrow will enjoy internet speeds 80 times quicker, while it will be 10 times faster for homes in Innerleithen.
Mr McCrow added: “It is very exciting to think that after all our campaigning the day has finally arrived.
“We are looking forward to the difference this will make to our tourism and other businesses, our children’s education, our ability to be in touch with friends and family in the UK and overseas and, last but not least, for people to work from home to give them more leisure time and reduce their carbon impact.”
James McClafferty, BT Scotland’s partnerships director, confirmed that in the coming months Innerleithen will go ultra-fast following work by its engineers, benefiting businesses.
He said: “This is a fantastic day for the people of Innerleithen and district, putting them at the heart of super-fast Scotland.
“This investment opens up a host of great opportunities here in the town and surrounding villages. It has the power to transform every aspect of people’s lives – from education to entertainment – and helps make flexible working much more viable.”
Politicians joined in the praise of the Innerleithen campaign and the advantages the town will witness.
David Mundell, MP for Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale, said: “This latest BT investment is very good news for Innerleithen, particularly in these economically challenging times.
“Super-fast broadband will create new opportunities for everyone in the town, giving our businesses a competitive edge as well as opening new doors for people of every age and background.
“It has the power to transform every aspect of life, including lifelong learning, healthcare and the way we all work and play.”
Christine Grahame, MSP for Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale, said the investment put Innerleithen at the “forefront of digital Britain”.
“It will mean better internet services for local businesses, youngsters in education and anyone using the web for shopping, social and domestic purposes,” she added.
South of Scotland list MSP Claudia Beamish called on further cash to be pledged so that other towns in the Borders can benefit from superfast broadband.
“I am glad that the commitment of the Scottish Government, local council and organisations such as The South of Scotland Alliance to improving the digital infrastructure of south Scotland has now come to fruition and look forward to further investment in the near future in other communities across the region.”