Borders MP gets up to speed on ultrafast broadband build

John Lamont MP visits Galashiels for an update on Scottish Borders Full Fibre rollout


Borders MP John Lamont met Openreach engineers this week to check on the latest rollout of ultrafast, ultra-reliable full fibre broadband across the area.

He was given a tour of the work in Gala and an update on the Borders build, which has now reached 14,000 properties, including more than 1,000 businesses. Nearly one in four of those passed by the new gigabit network has already upgraded.

In Gala, the first 1,000 premises can now access the town’s new network, with a third of local people already upgrading. Meanwhile take-up of the new services available in the Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk constituency is even higher at 37 per cent, well above the average for the region.

Openreach operates Scotland’s largest broadband network, used by customers of companies like  BTSkyTalkTalkVodafone and Zen.

Locations like Peebles, Glentress and Kelso are already benefitting from full fibre technology, with work continuing to reach thousands more homes and businesses. Engineers expect to start work on the main build in Hawick this autumn, with work to prepare its main fibre ‘spine’ under way. More than 20 towns and villages – like Jedburgh, Selkirk and Coldstream – will be upgraded under Openreach’s plan to reach 25m premises by 2026.

John Lamont MP said: “I‘m pleased to see the progress being made by Openreach to deliver full fibre to our rural communities. I’ve been campaigning for years for local people to be able to reap the full benefits of these amazing technologies, and the importance of ensuring our harder-to-reach communities are connected.

“This significant local investment is great news for people living and working in Galashiels and I recognise that Openreach is striving to deliver a balanced build which does not just benefit urban areas. It’s playing a significant part in getting gigabit capable broadband to harder-to-reach homes across Scotland.

“It’s also great to hear that there’s been significant demand for the new services across my constituency, but if you’re still to take the plunge, it’s definitely worth considering the benefits of an upgrade.”

Full fibre broadband offers download speeds of one gigabit per second (1Gbps), which means it’s up to 10 times faster than the average home broadband connection, bringing faster game downloads, better quality video calls and higher resolution movie streaming.

It’s also less affected by peak time congestion which means people can use multiple devices simultaneously, even during peak times in the evening, without the connection slowing down. That means more people can get online at the same time without experiencing stuttering, buffering or dropouts.

The visit was hosted by Ian Porter, Openreach Chief Engineer for the South of Scotland, and Robert Thorburn, Partnership Director for Scotland.

Robert said: “We welcomed the opportunity to show our latest progress and share the challenges and realities of delivering this life-changing infrastructure. We’re very excited about what full fibre can do for the Borders. Research shows rolling it supercharges productivity and creates new employment opportunities.

“We need local, skilled and experienced people to support our investment in the Borders, and we’re creating around 30 new posts here this year. We’re building a diverse and inclusive workforce, and we’d love more women and people from minority groups to consider a career in Openreach.”

Ian added: “Local people in many Borders communities are likely to spot an increase in Openreach activity as we continue work on the ground. We try hard to keep any disruption to a minimum by reusing our existing network where possible, but it’s not always straightforward.

“Occasionally we need to put up new poles or carry out roadworks safely, but the resulting benefits our network brings will be huge, varied and long-term across the community.”

Openreach’s £15bn fibre investment aims to reach 25 million premises by December 2026, including more than six million in the hardest-to-serve parts of the country defined by industry regulator Ofcom. More than 7.2m homes and business can already order a service over the new network, including 610,000 across Scotland so far.

The Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr) estimates that connecting everyone in Scotland to full fibre would create a £4.5 billion boost to the economy. You can find out more about the Full Fibre build programme, latest availability and local plans here.