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Outer Hebrides Gains Faster Broadband via Digital Scotland BT Project

Tuesday, Jul 7th, 2015 (11:07 am) - Score 921

Residents and businesses living in Scotland’s Outer Hebrides have finally benefitted from the on-going BT and Digital Scotland project, which has successfully deployed “high-speed fibre broadband” (FTTC) services to 3,600 premises in Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis.

The on-land deployment follows last year’s major £26.9 million subsea fibre optic roll-out (here), which saw BT deploying new cables to various locations including the Kintyre Peninsula, the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides and the northern Orkney Islands.

Since then BTOpenreach engineers have been busy building the on-land side of their new infrastructure and the first 11 street cabinets have now gone live or are about to go live across the town of Stornoway and at Tong. The majority of premises across the Outer Hebrides should benefit by the end of 2016.

Deputy First Minister, John Swinney, said:

This is a momentous day and a huge first step in transforming the future of connectivity for communities and businesses across the Outer Hebrides. This investment is designed to reach Scotland’s remoter communities, none of which would have seen these kinds of connections through the commercial market. It marks more positive progress thanks to the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband Programme.

Every week we make strong progress with around 7,000 new premises having fibre made available to them. Thanks to this, and together with commercial work, we are creating an infrastructure which will see us fulfil the Scottish Government’s commitment to deliver world class connectivity in Scotland by 2020, ensuring we are a world class digital nation.”

Alex Paterson, HIE Chief Executive, added:

The scale of the challenge to bring modern, fast and reliable broadband to our remotest areas is huge. On the Outer Hebrides the project has seen five sub-sea cables for inter-island and mainland links installed last year, and fibre cabling now runs the length of the islands.

Over the course of the next year we will see the roll-out of this game-changing network reach at least 70% of premises across the islands. We won’t stop there and we are ambitious that the huge step up in capacity that it brings will help us find solutions for more and more people in even the hardest to reach areas.”

It should be noted that some premises in Stornoway are sadly still connected via the dreaded Exchange Only Lines (EOL), although Openreach has pledged to return later this year in order to tackle those; they usually require a much more expensive and complicated network rearrangement (two new street cabinets are already being planned). In the meantime it should be noted that locals on EOLs may also gain a small benefit from the general improvement to local network capacity.

The Digital Scotland project aims to ensure that “fibre broadband” services are available to 85% of Scottish premises by the end of 2015 and 95% by the end of 2017/18, although the coverage target for the Highland and Islands (HIE) region alone is currently just 84% by 2016.

By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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