Digital Scotland in top gear – as rollout reaches a new high

MORE than 950,000 premises across Scotland are now able to connect to faster fibre broadband through the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband infrastructure build.

The highly successful, £463M partnership programme has reached the ‘amazing’ milestone as it starts to draw to a close in its seventh year of deployment. The total includes more than 110,000 extra premises which were not originally expected to benefit.

Across the country, Openreach engineers have laid a whopping 16,730KM of cable – enough to stretch to the South Pole and beyond – including 400KM of sub-sea cable, while 5,078 new fibre street cabinets are now live.

Before DSSB began there were no plans for commercial fibre broadband rollout in Orkney, Shetland or the Western Isles – now more than 80%[1] of premises in these local authorities can access fibre.

To mark the achievement, Connectivity Minister Paul Wheelhouse paid a physically distanced visit to Scottish Borders business Ridelines to hear how their superfast internet connection has helped them during lockdown.

The company, based in Innerleithen, provides mountain bike courses and tuition in the Tweed Valley hills and countryside.

Minister for Minister for Energy, Connectivity and the Islands, Paul Wheelhouse said: “I’m delighted that the programme has far exceeded its expected delivery target and has gone on to provide better broadband technology to more than 950,000 homes and businesses all over Scotland - an amazing achievement.

“Having fast and reliable internet is absolutely vital to communities across the country. As we emerge from lockdown, it helps businesses stay connected with customers and colleagues, as well as helping families to stay in touch, learn, work, play and shop – over 65% of people who have fibre available to them have signed up.

“That’s why it was fantastic to find out how Ridelines has been benefitting from the infrastructure, delivered as part of the DSSB programme, and that it has made such a difference to the day-to-day running of the business before and after Covid-19.”

Robert Thorburn, Openreach’s partnership director for Scotland, said: “Bringing better broadband to nearly a million homes across rural Scotland – on time and under budget – has been a massive team effort.

“We’ve seen how invaluable connectivity has been to our communities during lockdown – and it’s just as vital to help rural economies and businesses like Ridelines during recovery. The fibre cables reaching deep into rural Scotland will also help to extend other technologies, like 4G and 5G mobile services.

“There’s more to do – and the success of our Digital Scotland partnership gives the nation a far-reaching fibre platform to build on for the next stage of the journey.”

Fibre broadband offers fast and reliable broadband connections2 and there are many suppliers in the marketplace to choose from. People need to sign up for the new, faster services with an internet service provider, as upgrades are not automatic.

The DSSB project has been delivered through two projects – led by Highlands and Islands Enterprise in its area and the Scottish Government in the rest of Scotland. Funding partners include the Scottish Government, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, UK Government through Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK), BT Group, local authorities and the EU via the European Regional Development Fund.

Sara Budge, DSSB’s programme director said: “I’m immensely proud to be able to say that more than 950K premises across Scotland are now able to benefit from fibre broadband thanks to the DSSB programme, whether that’s being able to work from home easily or just catch up with friends and family online.”

Andy Weir, Owner of Ridelines, said: “Like any small business, the past few months have been challenging for us – but having fast, reliable broadband has helped. I’ve been able to upload blogs and videos to help keep in touch with clients. Before we had superfast broadband this would have been frustratingly impossible.

“We’ve also been able to communicate with our team and the wider biking industry through online face to face meetings, which has been a huge benefit to our business recovery.”


[2] Wholesale services are available over the Openreach network to all service providers; speeds offered by service providers may vary. FTTC (fibre-to-the-cabinet) is available at speeds of up to 80Mbps. FTTP (fibre-to-the-premises) is capable of delivering the fastest residential broadband speeds in the UK – up to 1Gbps – fast enough to download a two-hour HD movie in 25 seconds or a 45-minute HD TV programme in just five seconds.

Note to editors

Digital network provider Openreach has delivered the Digital Scotland project on the ground, with BT contributing £146m of funding.

[1] According to Thinkbroadband.com