It was top marks for Digital Scotland this week as pupils from Westfield Primary School in Cumbernauld helped welcome the latest batch of fibre broadband in the town.
Around 800 households and businesses in Cumbernauld can now access high-speed fibre services as part of the £410 million Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband programme, building on the town’s existing fibre broadband network.
Local people need to sign up for the new services with an internet service provider, as upgrades are not automatic.
The premises join more than 21,000 in North Lanarkshire which are now able to access fibre broadband through the Digital Scotland rollout. Other local areas now live thanks to the programme include Airdrie, Kilsyth, Glenboig and Chryston.
More local coverage will follow as engineers from Openreach, BT’s local network business, continue work on the ground.
Head Teacher, Carol Ellington, and pupils Joshua Dukes - Primary 7, Samuel Hunter - Primary 7, Ayla Thomson - Primary 6 and Rebecca Quinn - Primary 6, helped with the celebrations at a special event on Thursday. They joined Councillor Paddy Hogg, as well as members from the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband programme, to unveil one of the new street cabinets that will serve part of the town.
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 590,000 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.
On the day, pupils from Westfield Primary also had a lesson with a difference as they climbed aboard the Digital Scotland Fibre Showcase, a specially-adapted 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.
A small number of the homes and businesses in the Cumbernauld area are served by ‘Exchange Only’ lines. These 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.
Head Teacher at Westfield Primary School, Carol Ellington, said: “It was fantastic to have the Digital Scotland team visit the school and involve some of the pupils in helping launch the latest fibre broadband in the town. Having the fibre showcase at the school was also a great opportunity for pupils to see the amount of hard engineering work that’s involved in connecting up communities to fibre broadband. As well as this, it also showed them how beneficial it would be when it comes to their school work and various other aspects of their home life.”
Councillor Allan Graham, Convener of Regeneration and Infrastructure, 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 Cumbernauld are now able to receive fibre broadband thanks to the programme, with more local coverage to follow.
“It was a pleasure having some of the pupils joining us for the launch. 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, ended: “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 schools 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
*These are the top wholesale speeds available from Openreach to all service providers; speeds offered by service providers may vary.
Notes to editors
Due to the current network topography and the economics of deployment, it is likely that not all premises within selected exchange areas will be able to access fibre-based broadband at the same point in the roll-out. Further announcements will be made as more areas are able to access the growing fibre infrastructure.
Superfast Britain is a UK Government programme of investment in broadband and communication infrastructure across the UK. Run by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, this investment helps businesses to grow, creates jobs and will make Britain more competitive in the global race. The portfolio is comprised of three elements:
For further information: https://www.gov.uk/broadband-delivery-uk
BT’s purpose is to use the power of communications to make a better world. It is one of the world’s leading providers of communications services and solutions, serving customers in 180 countries. Its principal activities include the provision of networked IT services globally; local, national and international telecommunications services to its customers for use at home, at work and on the move; broadband, TV and internet products and services; and converged fixed-mobile products and services. With effect from 1 April 2016, the group has been reorganised and the customer-facing lines of business are now: Global Services, Business and Public Sector, Consumer, EE, Wholesale and Ventures, and Openreach.
For the year ended 31 March 2016, BT Group’s reported revenue was £19,042m with reported profit before taxation of £3,029m.
British Telecommunications plc (BT) is a wholly-owned subsidiary of BT Group plc and encompasses virtually all businesses and assets of the BT Group. BT Group plc is listed on stock exchanges in London and New York.
For more information, visit www.btplc.com