Rural Borderers set to enjoy fibre broadband

Thousands more homes and businesses in the Borders will be next to benefit from the arrival of high-speed fibre broadband – in the latest phase of the Digital Scotland programme.

The next stage of the £410million project is set to pass 73,000 more homes and businesses nationwide, announced as the Scottish rollout sped past the half-way mark.

Nine communities will benefit from the Digital Scotland project for the first time, while the existing fibre network will be extended in Kelso and Peebles.

The rollout is expected to reach another 5,900 premises in the Borders. The first connections are due to go live by the end of this year, as engineers from BT’s local network business, Openreach, continue work on the ground.

The announcement comes on the same day as the UK Government announced the UK-wide rollout of superfast broadband has now passed more than three million UK homes and businesses. The rollout is on track to reach 95% of the UK by 2017 and is now reaching around 5,000 additional premises every day.

Councillor Stuart Bell, Scottish Borders Council’s executive member for economic development, said: “This is great news for the Borders.

“It’s fantastic to see some of our more rural communities being able to connect for the first time – which will be a big boost. Residents are reminded that in order to benefit from fibre once it goes live, they need to contact their service provider.”

Brendan Dick, director of BT Scotland, said: “We’re making good headway with the Digital Scotland rollout, passing 7,000 more premises a week. Coupled with our commercial upgrades, it means more than 1.7 million Scottish homes and businesses can now choose to connect with much higher speeds.

“Across the UK, 23 million premises are now covered by BT’s open access network, with three million of those enabled under the BDUK programme.

“Our Openreach engineers have worked tirelessly to connect some of the most remote parts of Scotland, from Shetland and the Hebrides to Rothesay in Argyll and Bute, and now places like Ashkirk, Birgham and Blainslie will follow.

“On the back of strong take-up of fibre services in partnership areas, BT is releasing additional funds which will enable us to go even further at no extra cost to the taxpayer much earlier than originally expected. Around £17.8million is available for Scotland to help us reach even more communities.”