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UPDATE Scotland UK Reveals its Next “Fibre Broadband” Rollout Areas

Wednesday, February 17th, 2016 (8:51 am) - Score 1,530

The £410 million Digital Scotland project has so far helped to make BT’s “high-speed fibre broadband” (FTTC/P) network available to an additional 115,000 premises and this week the next batch of upgrade areas have been confirmed, including for the remote Highlands and Islands region.

As a quick recap, the project is actually made up of two halves, with one focusing upon the “Highlands and Islands” region and the other working to connect the “Rest of Scotland“. Overall the scheme aims to roll-out to cover 85% of Scottish premises by the end of March 2016 and 95% by the end of 2017/18 (reaching an additional 750,000 premises by completion).

However the coverage target for the Highland and Islands (HIE) region alone is still just 84% by the end of 2016.

Digital Scotland’s Phase 1 Contract Funding

The Highlands and Islands (£145.8m):
• £126.4m from public bodies (Scottish Government, Broadband Delivery UK [£50.83m], Highland and Islands Enterprise and all seven local authorities in the project area)
• £19.4m from BT.

The Rest of Scotland (£264m):
• £157m from public sources (Scottish Government, ERDF, Broadband Delivery UK [£50m], and all 27 local authorities that form part of the Rest of Scotland Project area)
• £106.7m from BT.

Broadly speaking Scotland as a whole seems to be roughly on course to reach the initial goal of 85% coverage (details) and this appears to reflect the coverage of a superfast broadband (24Mbps+) network, although if defined as 30Mbps+ then it’s possible they may fall just a smidgen short by the end of March 2016 (arguably within the margin of error).

However the deployment is continuing and we’ve this week been given a rough idea of which will be the next areas in the HIE region to benefit; this work will begin over the next 6 months. As usual the following list tends to reflect new areas, although BTOpenreach will also be doing some infill to expand coverage in locations where FTTC/P is already partly present.

Next HIE Areas Where Work is Starting

Argyll and Bute

Aros, Inveraray, Kilmartin, Port Ellen, Strachur, Tayvallich

Arran and Cumbrae

Millport, Pirnmill, Sliddery


Ardvasar, Arisaig, Broadford, Dunvegan, Edinbane, Fort Augustus, Isle Ornsay, Kyle, Poolewe, Raasay, Salen, Scourie, Uig, Portree



Shetland Islands


Outer Hebrides

Benbecula, Garrabost

The Isle of Skye (reflected under ‘Highland’ above) will also see further benefit, with another 3,000 premises set to be covered and the first street cabinet is already live for the Kiltragleann estate in Portree. A new cabinet has also been built in Kyleakin and will go live after testing. More coverage is also coming on the mainland at Kyle of Lochalsh (reaching 400+ additional premises).

Similarly the project has already helped to reach 6,000 additional premises on the remote Shetland Islands and Symbister will be the next to benefit (expected to be ready by Summer 2016). The new network has also been enabled for large parts of Hamnavoe, Lerwick, Cunningsburgh, Sandwick, Scalloway, Sumburgh and Weisdale.

Stuart Robertson, HIE’s Director of Digital, said:

“It’s great to see the fibre cabinets coming through in more and more locations across the region. We are seeing increasingly smaller communities drawn in and are tackling some challenging geographies to reach people. Most recent places to see coverage include Weisdale in Shetland which now boasts the UK’s most northerly cabs, Helmsdale in Sutherland, and the first locations in Arran and Millport.”

Liz Mallinson, BT Scotland’s Fibre Broadband Director, added:

“We’re excited to be bringing fibre technology to more places in the Highlands and Islands, especially as it involves overcoming the technical challenge in the shape of EO lines.

We’re also urging local people to check if they’re among the thousands who can already get high speed services.”

It’s worth pointing out, as Mallinson hints above, that a lot of the hard work involved with this next deployment phase will be focused upon tackling the dreaded Exchange Only Lines (EOL), which are pure copper lines that run directly from your home to the local telephone exchange. Unfortunately it requires a complex and expensive network rearrangement in order to install FTTC / street cabinets on such lines, but it’s good to see that so many are finally being tackled.

Sadly Openreach’s deployment won’t reach 100% of premises in all of the listed areas, although future phases often involve infill and that requires them to return in order to further extend beyond the existing coverage.

UPDATE 18th Feb 2016

Somehow this one slipped under our radar, but the ‘Rest of Scotland’ part of the project also announced the next 28 new telephone exchange areas that would benefit from the project.

The 28 ‘Rest of Scotland’ Exchanges

Dumfries and Galloway

Haugh of Urr
Kirkpatrick Durham


St Fergus
Rothiemay (Infill)

Scottish Borders

Drochil Castle
Innerleithen (Infill)



Perth and Kinross


South Lanarkshire

Douglas Water

Falkirk (all Infill)

Dundee Park

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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 Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
Leave a Comment
6 Responses
  1. Alasdair says:

    On a related note, Digital Scotland announced another few exchanges for the rest of Scotland project earlier in the week too – http://www.scotlandsuperfast.com/latest-news/news/28-new-exchanges-set-to-benefit-from-fibre-broadband-across-scotland/

    1. Mark Jackson says:

      You are correct, not sure how we missed that one but I’ve added it above. We usually get a press release about these, but this time none was received.

  2. Stephen says:

    Good to see that FINALLY the EO lines will receive some priority. Although, there can’t be much left to do apart from these lines.
    I’d love to know what the uptake levels are like in Aberdeen city and shire. I’ve seen one road that’s recently had it’s THIRD set of cabinets added plus a few PCP cabinets around the city seem to have extensions added to them which I assume will be for extra capacity.

    1. Graham Lamont says:

      We live slightly to the west of peterhead and can only get 0.9 down. Alot of folk in Aberdeen seem to have switched to fibre.

  3. Craski says:

    It is of course welcome news that more will benefit, but… I regularly drive through one of the areas mentioned here and it has been fairly obvious for many months that fibre is coming with new PCP and fibre twin having been erected outside the exchange. Equally, anyone keeping an eye on the “Code Look” website will also have been aware of it.

    What would be revelation for Digital Scotland would be to actually announce a plan beyond the next 6 months and beyond what is is already fairly obvious.
    What is the plan through to the end of 2017 (BDUK target for Scotland)?
    When are long lines going to be tackled?

  4. Cecil Ward says:

    Why wait? Perhaps another decade of pondering about what to do with copper lines that are over 4.5 miles long, perhaps that will do it. Yeah, safest to do nothing for now, give it another decade or so. No point deploying FTTP when you still have the highly-cost-effective option of complete inaction.

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