Dumfriesshire MSP Oliver Mundell was out in the field with Openreach engineers this week (Monday) to see the progress that’s been made with fibre broadband and customer service in Dumfries and Galloway.
Engineers also updated him on the company’s plans to roll out the next generation of broadband technology – future-proof, full-fibre services capable of carrying speeds up to 1Gbps*.
The MSP visited Dumfries telephone exchange and local fibre street cabinets and learned how engineers are working to identify and fix some faults BEFORE they affect people’s services.
He also heard about the challenges and benefits of rolling out more reliable, ultrafast Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) in places like rural Glencaple near Dumfries, with local Openreach engineers Gareth Owens and Kevin Hodgkins explaining the differences between fibre technologies.
According to the independent website Think Broadband, 83 per cent of premises in Dumfries and Galloway are now able to connect to broadband at a speed of 30Mbps and above.
Mr Mundell said: “I’m regularly contacted by constituents about broadband, so it’s been useful to see today at first hand the progress that’s being made.
“Good connectivity is absolutely vital for a strong local economy and, with around one in 10 Dumfries and Galloway households still only able to get a broadband speed of less than 10Mbps, I’m keen to make sure that progress continues at pace.
“It was particularly interesting to hear about the next generation of full fibre broadband, where the fibre runs directly to people’s homes, and the huge difference that a reliable connection brings for everyone in the household.
“While this broadband utopia may be some distance away for most constituents, it’s great to know that some Dumfriesshire residents can already enjoy broadband capabilities which are among the best anywhere in the UK. It was helpful to gain an understanding of the engineering work involved in building fibre connections to people’s homes.”
Openreach has been working closely with the Scottish and UK Governments, local authorities and other partners to expand fibre broadband beyond commercial boundaries since 2013.
The Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband partnership rollout has brought fibre broadband to dozens of communities in the Dumfriesshire constituency, including Annan, Glencaple, Lochmaben, Ecclefechan, Gretna and Amisfield, and includes small deployments of FTTP in areas where it is the best technical solution.
The visit was hosted by James Carsley, project director for Openreach’s fibre network build in Scotland, who said: “We know good, reliable broadband is really important to local people, and we have made great progress, however appreciate that there’s more work to be done.
“Oliver Mundell shares our ambition to make sure everybody in Scotland has access to a quality broadband service. We appreciate that he was able to make time to come and learn about the realities of delivering digital technology into rural areas.
”Only Openreach has the commitment, experience, skills and local workforce needed to deliver an open, reliable, future-proofed digital network for all of Scotland.”
Openreach’s Fibre-to-the-Cabinet footprint, at speeds of up to 80Mbps*, currently passes more than 2.5 million homes and business premises in Scotland, where take-up of superfast services across all networks stands at around 40 per cent.
Openreach is also starting to roll out FTTP more widely, with plans to reach three million homes and businesses across the UK by the end of 2020, and, if the conditions are right, to go significantly beyond. Edinburgh is the first city in Scotland to benefit from its Fibre First investment.
Notes to editors
*These are wholesale speeds available from Openreach to all service providers; speeds offered by service providers may vary. FTTP is capable of delivering the fastest residential broadband speeds in the UK – up to 1Gbps – fast enough to download a two hour HD movie in 25 seconds or a 45-minute HD TV programme in just five seconds.
Openreach is Britain’s digital network business.
We’re 30,400 people who connect homes, mobile phone masts, schools, shops, banks, hospitals, libraries, 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 Britain can be connected.
We work on behalf of more than 600 communications providers like SKY, TalkTalk, Vodafone, and BT, and our fibre broadband network is the biggest in the UK, passing more than 27 million premises. We’re also the platform for Britain’s thriving digital economy, which is the largest in the G20.
We’re working hard to give people the speeds they need to run and enjoy their daily lives. Over the last decade, we’ve invested more than £11 billion into our network and we now manage more than 160 million kilometres of cable stretching from Scotland to Cornwall, from Wales to the east coast. And we’re continuing to take that network further - making superfast broadband speeds available to thousands more homes and businesses every week.
Openreach is a wholly owned and independently governed division of the BT Group, and it is a highly regulated business, with more than 90 per cent of our revenues generated from services that are regulated by Ofcom and any company can access our products under the same prices, terms and conditions.
For the year ended 31 March 2018, we reported revenues of £5.1bn.
For more information, visit openreach.co.uk