Pupils from St Edward’s Primary School in Airdrie were superfast in finding out the benefits of fibre broadband when the Digital Scotland Fibre Showcase paid them a visit this week.
Nearly 1,700 households and businesses in Airdrie can now access high-speed fibre services thanks to the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband programme, building on the town’s existing fibre network. Local people need to sign up for the new services with an internet service provider, as upgrades are not automatic.
Pupils from the school were joined by the Digital Scotland team to learn about how fibre broadband is rolled out and all the opportunities and benefits it could have for their school work.
The premises join more than 18,800 in North Lanarkshire which are now able to access fibre broadband through the Digital Scotland rollout. Other areas now live thanks to the programme include Caldercruix, Newmains and Harthill, while the fibre network has been extended in towns such as Coatbridge and Bellshill.
Work is also under way in other areas like Glenboig, and more local coverage will follow as engineers from BT’s local network business, Openreach, continue work on the ground.
Fibre broadband offers fast and reliable broadband connections at speeds of up to 80Mbps* and there are many suppliers in the marketplace to choose from. Whether you own a business, work from home or want to keep in touch with friends and family, fibre broadband enables multiple users to connect to the internet at high speeds and get better, faster access to online services.
The Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband programme – in partnership with the Scottish Government and BT – will deliver access to fibre broadband to around 95% of premises by the end of March 2018, when combined with existing commercial roll-out plans. The £410 million programme underpins the Scottish Government’s aim for Scotland to become a world class digital nation by 2020.
Delivered through two projects – led by Highlands and Islands Enterprise in their area and the Scottish Government in the rest of Scotland – the partnership currently reaches more than 500,000 premises across the country, with the rollout continuing at pace.
Other funding partners include the UK Government through Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK), local authorities and the European Regional Development Fund. BT has invested £126 million in the two projects, in addition to its commercial rollout.
The Digital Scotland team visited pupils from St Edward’s Primary on Wednesday. During the visits, pupils were able to climb aboard the Digital Scotland Fibre Showcase, a unique vehicle which features all of the equipment used in the roll-out of fibre broadband.
It includes kit which is familiar to members of the public - like the new green street cabinets - as well as some of the things they don’t often see, such as how fibre-optic cables are ‘blown’ underground.
The special events come as part of a number of school visits across North Lanarkshire. The Digital Scotland Fibre Showcase will also be making visits to Holytown Primary, Christ The King Primary in Holytown, St Patrick’s Primary School in Shotts and Ladywell Primary in Motherwell in February.
A number of the homes and businesses in the Airdrie area are served by ‘Exchange Only’ lines which run directly from the exchange to the premises – bypassing the usual road-side cabinets which are integral to the fibre rollout. Engineers have rearranged the existing network, laying new cables to reroute lines through extra road-side cabinets, to overcome this challenge.
North Lanarkshire Council’s Convener of Regeneration and Infrastructure, Cllr John McLaren, said: “It's good to see this project reaching more communities and giving an increasing number of homes and businesses the opportunity to connect to high-speed broadband. We are determined to make sure everyone in North Lanarkshire has access to digital services and the skills and confidence to go online and use them, even from a young age.”
Sara Budge, Programme Director for Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband, said: “It’s great news that many residents and businesses in and around Airdrie and Coatbridge are now able to receive fibre broadband thanks to the programme, with more local coverage to follow.
“I also hope that all the children at the school enjoyed visiting our Digital Scotland Fibre Showcase and found it insightful in finding out what fibre broadband can provide and how it’s delivered.
“The difference that fibre broadband can make is amazing. Once signed up with a service provider, it will give much more flexibility whether it’s at work or in the home.”
Liz Mallinson, BT Scotland’s Fibre Broadband Director, added: “Thousands of people in North Lanarkshire now have the opportunity to access their best ever broadband speeds when they sign up with a service provider. There’s lots of competition out there and people may find they could be surfing at much higher speeds at a similar cost to their current service.
“We’d like to thank the school for having us – it’s great that local pupils were able to get an insight into how high-speed technology powers the internet and learn about a very positive side to a career in engineering.”
Local people can check the interactive map on the Digital Scotland website (http://www.scotlandsuperfast.com/where-when/) to find out if they can get the service and further information is also available on Twitter @ScotSuperfast or Facebook at www.facebook.com/scotlandsuperfast