Gala and Peebles ahead in race for super-fast broadband

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whilE the campaign to have super-fast broadband available across the whole of the Borders by 2020 goes on, BT has this week announced that the service will be available in Galashiels and Peebles by the autumn of next year, writes Andrew Keddie.

A partnership of Scottish Borders Council and Dumfries and Galloway Council is currently preparing a bid to the Scottish Government for a share of the £69million which has been allocated for rural broadband by UK culture secretary Jeremy Hunt MP. Without adequate investment, the partnership believes untold damage will be done to the Borders economy.

Amid fears that Innerleithen could be the only settlement with so-called next generation broadband – after the town won BT’s Race to Infinity – the company announced on Tuesday that 12,000 homes and businesses in Galashiels and Peebles have been included in its super-fast fibre broadband programme. The latest upgrades are due to be completed by Autumn 2012.

BT is building the new network using a mix of fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) and fibre to the premises (FTTP) technologies. Both, say the company, provide much faster speeds than those previously available to many UK homes and businesses.

Brendan Dick, director of BT Scotland, said: “BT’s roll-out of super-fast broadband is marching on and residents and businesses in Galashiels and Peebles can look forward to choosing a high-speed connection over a network offering an unrivalled choice of suppliers, which keeps competition thriving and costs down.

David Mundell, MP for Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale, said: “The arrival of super-fast broadband is a very important development for the Peeblesshire area and represents a significant investment.

“There is no doubt that faster broadband is a real benefit to householders and provides businesses with a competitive advantage. The BT announcement is a welcome step in the right direction and will give a long-term boost to our local economy.”

Scottish infrastructure minister Alex Neil MSP said: “Ensuring access for all parts of Scotland to next generation high-speed broadband by 2020 is a key priority for the Scottish Government.

“We are working closely with key stakeholders in the development of a strategic national broadband plan to transform this vision into a reality. We are clear that the private sector has a significant role to play too, and the announcement is a welcome step forward towards achieving our vision.”