39,000 Scottish Homes And Businesses Set To Receive BDUK Boost

Digital Scotland has revealed the next 37 locations to receive superfast broadband as part of the Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) funded rollout of fibre in the country.

The £410 million partnership comprises two separate projects – one covering the Highlands and Islands region and another covering the rest of Scotland – with the first locations to benefit from the former project announced last October.

As a result of this latest development, more than 39,000 homes and businesses in 13 local authority areas will have access of speeds of up to 80Mbps by the summer of 2014.

Scottish broadband boost

Parts of Aberdeen, Dumfries, Ayr, Stirling, Perth, Oban, Dundee and Galashiels will be upgraded, while other, such as Bridge of Allan, Castle Douglas, Findhorn, Fochabers, Kintore, Melrose, Scone and Taynuilt will receive superfast broadband for the first time.

“Today marks an important milestone for the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband partnership,” said Nicola Sturgeon, Deputy First Minister. “The scale of the challenge of delivering fibre broadband into rural Scotland is greater than any other part of the UK and indeed, much of Europe.

“It’s fantastic news that many rural communities and businesses, from the Highlands to the Borders, will soon begin to see the benefits of high quality digital connectivity, making them more economically viable in the long term.”

BT involvement

More locations will be announced quarterly throughout the life of the project and it is expected that 750,000 promises will eventually benefit from the rollout, which is being funded by the Scottish Government, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, BDUK,  local authorities and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), along with its private partner, BT.

BT is contributing £126 million to the project, while its commercial rollout has already reached 900,000 properties in Scotland and is set to reach 1.4 million by the spring.

“Today is a major step forward in a journey that will transform the communications landscape of rural Scotland and help develop prosperous local economies,” claims Brendan Dick, director of BT Scotland. “Our engineers have been working hard behind the scenes with colleagues in local and national government to get us to this point. Planning a project on this scale, to get the very best value for money and maximum coverage, is a phenomenal task.”

Challenging geography

BT has previously said that the rollout of fibre in the Highlands and Islands region is the most complex and challenging it has ever undertaken, and involves the use of 400 km of subsea cables – the biggest such engineering project it has ever undertaken in the UK.

The company awarded three companies a £26.9 million contract to lay 20 fibre-optic cables off the coast of Scotland in December, with the longest cable running 50 miles under the Minch from Ullapool to Stornoway on the Western Isles.

BT has so far won all of the funding available under BDUK, leading to claims that it effectively amounts to state aid. However the project has received the all-clear from European regulators and outgoing Openreach CEO Liv Garfield has expressed her frustration at continued criticism, despite the fact that the rollout had now reached 200,000 premises.

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Steve McCaskill

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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