The Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband (DSSB) programme has connected over 950,000 premises across Scotland to faster fibre broadband infrastructure, including more than 110,000 extra premises that were not originally expected to benefit.
Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles were not included in the initial commercial fibre broadband rollout plan, but according to thinkbroadband.com, over 80% of premises in these local authorities can now access fibre broadband.
The £463-million partnership programme is now wrapping up in its seventh year. Engineers from Openreach have laid 16,730 km of cable, including 400 km of sub-sea cable, and 5,078 new fibre street cabinets are now live.
Minister for Energy, Connectivity and the Islands, Paul Wheelhouse, said: “I’m delighted that the programme has far exceeded its expected delivery target at the outset and has gone on to provide better broadband technology to more than 950,000 homes and businesses all over Scotland – an amazing achievement.
“In the Scottish Borders alone, access to superfast broadband has also increased from 21% of premises in January 2014 to almost 88% now and, while we are putting in place investment to complete coverage, the progress made since 2014 is something that the DSSB team can be rightly proud of.”
Wheelhouse added: “Having fast and reliable internet is absolutely vital to communities across the country. As we emerge from lockdown, it helps businesses stay connected with customers and colleagues, as well as helping families to stay in touch, learn, work, play and shop – over 65% of people who have fibre available to them have already signed up to receive services and that is more than double the take up that had been modelled.”
To mark the achievement, Mr Wheelhouse paid a physically distanced visit to Innerleithen-based business Ridelines, which provides mountain bike courses and tuition in the Tweed Valley hills and countryside. He talked with them about how their superfast internet connection has helped them during lockdown.
“It was fantastic to find out how Ridelines, an excellent local business, has been benefiting from the infrastructure, delivered as part of the DSSB programme, and that it has made such a difference to the day-to-day running of the business before and after Covid-19 and to the business’ owner and his family as well.”
- Fibre Broadband Expected to Boost Scottish Economy by £2.76 Billion
- Openreach Extended to Include 200 Rural Locations
- Increased Demand on Internet Services Not an Issue, say Broadband Firms
The DSSB is funded by the Scottish Government, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, UK Government through Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK), BT Group, local authorities and the EU via the European Regional Development Fund.
Highlands and Islands Enterprise delivered the project across its area while the Scottish Government delivered it in the rest of the country.
Sara Budge, DSSB’s programme director said: “I’m immensely proud to be able to say that over 950,000 premises across Scotland that are now able to benefit from fibre broadband thanks to the DSSB programme, whether that’s to transform the operations and marketing of SMEs, being able to work from home easily or just catch up with friends and family online the programme has laid the platform for Scotland’s digital future.”