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New Openreach Project to Target ‘Hard to Reach’ Scottish Communities

Ross Kelly

,

Openreach

The Scottish Government has welcomed the renewed focus on rural connectivity projects.

Openreach has unveiled plans to make gigabit-capable full-fibre broadband available to homes and businesses in 60 locations across Scotland.

A host of rural communities and small towns, including Aviemore, Campbeltown, Peebles and Thurso, could now gain access to some of the fastest broadband speeds in Europe through the Openreach scheme.

It is hoped the connectivity boosts could help accelerate economic recovery in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Work is expected to commence in many of the locations within the next 12-18 months, Openreach confirmed. However, due to the scale of the project, some places will see work continue into 2024.

The new Scottish locations are part of a wider announcement to make the new technology available to a further 3.2 million premises in the UK’s hardest to reach ‘final third’.

More than £12 billion is being invested to improve broadband capabilities across the UK, and Openreach has an ambition to provide ‘full-fibre’ infrastructure for up to 20 million UK premises within the next decade.

Robert Thorburn, Openreach’s partnership director for Scotland, said the upgrades will help meet Scotland’s growing connectivity demands.

He said: “We’ve already upgraded hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses across Scotland to full-fibre.

“As well as keeping the existing network running throughout the Covid-19 crisis, our engineers have, safely and with social distancing in place, continued building the new infrastructure to make sure that as lockdown eases, our network is there to support families, businesses and the economic recovery.”

Many Scottish households and businesses can already switch to the new fibre services, and in the months ahead more will be able to switch over, Thorburn added.

“People can check online and as their broadband providers to find out more about the many benefits,” he said.

This latest campaign to improve rural broadband capabilities follows a report commissioned by Openreach last year.

The report, titled ‘Full fibre broadband: A platform for growth‘ highlighted the economic benefits of developing full-fibre broadband services in more rural areas.

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According to the report findings, connecting everyone in Scotland to full-fibre broadband by 2025 would deliver a £5.5 billion boost to the nation’s economy.

It also revealed that nearly 40,000 people across Scotland could be brought back into the workforce through enhanced connectivity.

Scottish Government connectivity minister, Paul Wheelhouse, welcomed the announcement as a positive step for Scotland’s rural communities.

He commented: “This rollout of gigabit-capable full-fibre broadband access enabled by Openreach to these more rural areas is welcomed.

“Commercial developments like these all play their part in giving Scotland access to superfast broadband and complement the work that the Scottish Government is doing in the Reaching 100% Programme to deliver superfast access for all.”

Ross Kelly

Staff Writer

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