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Half of Digital Scotland households sign up for better broadband

Press release   •   May 14, 2019 10:00 BST

Connectivity minister Paul Wheelhouse and Openreach's Rob Thorburn visit Lamington, South Lanarkshire – one of the latest villages in Scotland to benefit from fibre broadband

More than half the homes and business reached by the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband rollout have switched to faster fibre-based services, latest figures show.

Paul Wheelhouse, Minister for Energy, Connectivity and the Islands visited Lamington, South Lanarkshire, one of the latest villages in Scotland to benefit from fibre broadband to reveal the milestone.

Across Scotland, over 930,000 homes and businesses are now able to connect to the Digital Scotland network.
So far, more than 95 per cent of premises in Scotland are able to connect to fibre broadband. Without the programme, only around 66 per cent of homes and businesses would have access to the technology. To access services, people need to sign up to the upgraded services available with an internet service provider, as upgrades are not automatic. Web users can check the Digital Scotland website - scotlandsuperfast.com - to find out if the latest fibre broadband technology is available and see what’s happening with the rollout in local areas.

Connectivity Minister, Paul Wheelhouse, commented: “In the five years that this ambitious nation-wide engineering programme has been operational, over 930,000 homes and business have been reached across Scotland. Hundreds of small villages and communities like Lamington have seen the boost which fibre broadband brings and the benefits this generates for businesses, community groups and organisations and individuals. It’s great that more of our villages and rural communities have access to superfast broadband of speeds up to 80 Mbps, and this significant uplift in upload and download speeds is vital if we’re to grow our rural economy.

“Digital technology is at the forefront of today’s society and the difference that superfast broadband can make helps transform businesses by enabling them to stay connected with customers and colleagues, and has a positive impact at home, where fast reliable connections enable everyone to learn, work, play and shop, all in the comfort of their own home. It is therefore very encouraging to see the take up of the services that have been made available now go beyond 50%, as this higher than anticipated take-up helps engender ever greater confidence among suppliers considering investments in Scotland.”

Fibre broadband offers fast and reliable broadband connections at speeds of up to 80Mbps1 and there are many suppliers in the marketplace to choose from. Whether customers 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 a growing range of online services and technologies in areas such as health and social care.

The Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband programme’s funding partners include the Scottish Government, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, BT Group, the UK Government through Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK), local authorities and the European Regional Development Fund on behalf of the European Union.

BT Group has committed £146 million to the project, and this work has been delivered on the ground by engineers from its digital network subsidiary, Openreach.

Robert Thorburn, Principal – Contract and Commercial Management with Openreach, said: “Five years on from the start of our partnership, it’s fantastic that half the households passed by the Digital Scotland network have upgraded to better broadband.

“Good as the take-up is, it still means many more people could experience better connectivity right now. With 620 service providers using the Openreach network, there’s plenty of scope for Scots to shop around for the best deals. We’ve also brought in wholesale price cuts to help drive demand.

“Connecting up rural Scotland is universally recognised as one of the hardest fibre builds in Europe. We’re proud of our track record, reaching thousands more homes than asked of us on time and under budget.

“There’s more to do, so we’re investing an extra £20 million to reach even more homes this year. Scottish communities can count on our experienced, local engineers to get on with the job.”

Sara Budge, Programme Director for Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband, said: “It’s fantastic news that the programme continues to benefit residents and businesses across Scotland.

“I would like to thank Paul Wheelhouse and Openreach for helping us celebrate the fact that over 50% of properties across Scotland have now signed up with a service provider and are benefitting. More people than ever – in over 930,000 homes and businesses throughout Scotland – are able to access fibre broadband.

“With deployment continuing in 2019, we aim to deliver on our promise to improve broadband access to hard-to-reach places. We look forward to connecting more communities like Lamington in the near future.”

Further information is available on Twitter @ScotSuperfast or Facebook at www.facebook.com/scotlandsuperfast.

ENDS

1 These are the top wholesale speed available over the Openreach Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC) network to all service providers; speeds offered by service providers may vary. The Digital Scotland network also includes small deployments of Fibre to the Premises (FTTP, also known as ‘full fibre’) which is capable of delivering speeds of up to 1Gbps.

Notes to editors:
Across all networks, take-up in Scotland stands at around 40 per cent1 according to industry regulator Ofcom. Data taken from Ofcom’s Connected Nations Report for Scotland published in December 2018.

Due to the current network topography and the economics of deployment, it is likely that not all premises within selected areas will be able to access fibre-based broadband at the same point in the roll-out.

The Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband programme aims to provide fibre broadband infrastructure to parts of Scotland not included in commercial providers’ investment plans, and has reached around 95 per cent of premises when combined with current commercial roll-out plans.

About Openreach

Openreach Limited is the UK’s digital network business.

We’re 33,000 people, working in every community to connect homes, schools, shops, banks, hospitals, libraries, mobile phone masts, broadcasters, governments and businesses – large and small – to the world.

Our mission is to build the best possible network, with the highest quality service, making sure that everyone in the UK can be connected.

We work on behalf of more than 620 communications providers like SKY, TalkTalk, Vodafone, BT and Zen, and our fibre broadband network is the biggest in the UK, passing more than 27.5m UK premises

Over the last decade we’ve invested more than £13 billion into our network and, at more than 173 million kilometres – it’s now long enough to wrap around the world 4,314 times.

Today we’re building an even faster, more reliable and future-proof broadband network which will be the UK’s digital platform for decades to come. We’re on track to reach four million premises with this ‘full fibre’ technology by March 2021 and ultimately, we want to upgrade the majority of the UK if the conditions are right. We’re also hiring around 3,000 trainee engineers this year to help us build that network and deliver better service across the country.

Openreach is a highly regulated, wholly owned, and independently governed division of the BT Group. More than 90 per cent of our revenues come from services that are regulated by Ofcom and any company can access our products under equivalent prices, terms and conditions.

For the year ended 31 March 2019, we reported revenues of £5.1bn.

For more information, visit openreach.co.uk