CityFibre is connecting 152 public sector sites to gigabit-capable full-fibre broadband as part of a £7.5 million contract to improve digital services in the region.
Construction of the broadband network initially began in autumn last year. However, the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic led to the project being put on hold.
Following the approval of the Highland Council and key partners, work has recommenced to deliver the broadband services, and work has already restarted to build critical digital infrastructure in Inverness, including NHS sites such as Raigmore Hospital,
The digital connectivity project is being carried out in line with guidance from the Scottish Road Works Commissioner and confirmation that the Scottish Government identifies telecommunications as Critical National Infrastructure.
Upon completion, the project will see gigabit-capable connectivity installed at a host of schools, colleges, libraries, office, hospitals and health centres across Inverness, Fort William, Thurso and Wick.
NHS sites have been prioritised in the short-term, CityFibre said. However, all 152 sites are due to be connected between 2020 and 2021. Some public buildings in Wick and Thurso are already benefiting from the new connections.
Allan McEwan, CityFibre’s city manager for Inverness, commented: “This project is all about future-proofing and transforming public services across the Highlands.
“The last few weeks have underlined the vital role these services play in all our lives and it is so important that they have the digital infrastructure they need to deliver the best possible levels of service to everyone in the community.
“The infrastructure we are building has been classed as critical and that has allowed our construction teams to restart activity following a brief hiatus.”
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Local contractor GCU UK, which is leading the building work on behalf of CityFibre, will implement additional measures and follow social distancing protocols to ensure the safety of both workers and the wider community.
McEwan added: “All construction crews will be following social distancing protocols that are designed to protect themselves and people in the community. Appropriate PPE will also be used to help them carry out these essential works.”