Monster Scottish Broadband Expansion Brings Fibre To Loch Ness

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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Expect more blurry photos of mythical creatures as Loch Ness, and 73,000 properties in Scotland, are added to superfast broadband plans

Loch Ness Monster hunters and residents of many villages surrounding the famous loch that Nessie calls home are to be given access to superfast broadband as part of the latest phase of the £410 million Digital Scotland project, part-funded by Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK).

The Loch Ness expansion will take place over the next six months and will cover 1,300 homes and businesses in the Dochgarroch, Dores, Drumnadrochit, Foyers, Glenmoriston, Glenurquhart and Fort Augustus.

Digital Scotland admits not all of the villages surrounding the loch will be connected, but promises the development will transform connectivity in the area, which is popular with tourists.

Loch Ness broadband

Loch Ness 2“We are using a range of technologies to reach as many people as we can in many villages round the Loch. This will include building new cabinets and some fibre nodes,” said Stuart Robinson, director of digital at Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).

“The challenging geography, smaller population numbers and more scattered communities make this a really challenging area to reach. There are communities where numbers are currently too small, or homes are too dispersed for us to provide a viable solution.

“We will continue to look at the best ways to reach more people. This could get easier as technology improves, as more funding comes through for future phases, and with the support of Community Broadband Scotland to consider alternative technology options where required.”

Digital Scotland expansion

In total, the next stage of the rollout will see 73,000 more properties connected in 24 local authority areas, including Midlothian, Clackmannanshire and Falkirk for the first time. In total, 394,000 Scottish premises have been added to the Openreach fibre network as a direct result of BDUK, contributing to a UK-wide figure of more than three million.

“By reaching out to those communities who would not have been covered by the commercial market – in towns and into some of our most rural areas – we are ensuring that the connections which are made will bring many benefits to the Scottish people both at home and in business.,” said John Swinney, Scottish Deputy First Minister.

“We’re making good headway with the Digital Scotland rollout, passing 7,000 more premises a week,” added Brendan Dick, director of BT Scotland. “Coupled with our commercial upgrades it means more than 1.7 million Scottish homes and businesses can now choose to connect with much higher speeds.”

Scotland is one of the areas set to benefit from a pot of £129 million that BT will return to local authorities after adoption predictions exceeded those stated in BT’s original business case for the government funding. In total, £17.8 million will be returned to Digital Scotland, which can be reinvested in accelerating or expanding coverage. Digital Scotland is targeting 95 percent coverage by 2018.

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