Digital services contract set to unlock rural broadband

The council's groundbreaking deal with IT company CGI (see below) could see more rural areas being able to access superfast broadband.

Tuesday, 15th March 2016, 8:24 am
Updated Tuesday, 15th March 2016, 8:28 am
Announcement today by Scottish Borders Council as a £92 million deal is struck between SBC and IT and business process services provider CGI.

This will come from the ‘unbundling’ of six local exchanges which will allow CGI to deliver superfast broadband to schools, communities and businesses.

Local Loop Unbundling (LLU) is the process of opening up a telephone exchange from BT operation so that it can be used by a number of different broadband providers.

These providers are then able to use connections from the telephone exchange through to the customer to deliver broadband.

At the press briefing at the Transport Interchange in Galashiels on Monday, Rob Dickson, the council’s corporate transformation and services director, said: “We wanted to start to tackle the issue of network bandwidth, the constraints that exist with broadband that many will be very familiar with, even if you live in some of the larger towns in the Borders, but certainly if you live in one of the rural areas of the Borders, or are trying to do business there.

“We beleive we have met every one of those set criteria in the announcement.

“The unbundling of the six exchanges will allow us to bring, particularly for our own schools, additional benefits to three primary schools immediately and the nine secondary schools in the early part of the contract.”

David Parker, leader of the council, said the most rural areas of the community should benefit.

He said: “We have been working with BT and the Scottish Government over the superfast broadband rollout that will see 94% of the Borders being connected by 2018.

“What we are keen to do is target the other 6%.

So as part of this agreement, we will be looking at that 6% we don’t have a solution for at the moment and working with CGI to find that solution.

“So I think for those communities that are not part of the broadband project, this announcement is very good news.”

Mr Dickson added: “The council takes the connectivity issues for both superfast broadband and mobile telephones very seriously.

“We genuinely believe that the offer that CGI are bringing today is going to improve the offer to each individual household and businesses in the Borders.

“There is no reason why every single sector in our community can’t benefit from this offer.”