Edinburgh full fibre broadband build passes 80,000 homes

New network to help city bounce back from impact of Covid-19 pandemic

Openreach today announced that 80,000 homes and businesses across Edinburgh can now access some of the fastest, most reliable broadband anywhere in the UK.

They’re able to connect to the latest Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) broadband technology, with fibre optic cables laid all the way to people’s front doors.

The gigabit-capable, ultra-reliable technology is now live across the city – including Abbeyhill, Corstorphine, Davidson’s Mains, Newington, Fairmilehead, Fountainbridge and Liberton. Most of the build is also complete in Colinton, Granton, Leith and Morningside.

Engineers are returning to work in the city following the easing of lockdown restrictions, with work restarting in areas including Stockbridge and the West End, Craiglockhart and Portobello. Upgrades will start in Maybury, West Edinburgh, and the city centre’s Waverley exchange area later this year.

Local residents and businesses are being urged to check if they can order the latest broadband services at www.openreach.com as the capital looks to bounce back from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

 Robert Thorburn, Openreach’s Partnership Director for Scotland, said: “We’ve made great progress here in Edinburgh despite the challenges of Covid-19 restrictions, with 80,000 city households and businesses now able to connect to our new full fibre broadband network.

“Connectivity’s been vital for city businesses, home workers and families home educating during the lockdown, with record demand across our network. Now, as the nation faces the economic fallout from the pandemic, it’s going to be even more essential.

“Our rollout in Edinburgh offers these 80,000 homes and businesses access to the fastest, most reliable broadband available anywhere in the UK. That gives the city an economic edge for the recovery – so I’d urge people to check if they can upgrade now.”

He added: “The copper network is coming to the end of its working life and will eventually be switched off. Edinburgh businesses and residents can be early adopters to the new full fibre network, with a choice of providers who use the Openreach network to offer services.

“We’re grateful to The City of Edinburgh Council – without their support we couldn’t have reached today’s landmark in our full fibre rollout.”

Full fibre broadband provides more reliable, resilient and future-proof connectivity; with fewer faults; more predictable, consistent speeds and enough capacity to easily meet growing data demands.

It offers clear economic benefits – recent research suggests that connecting everyone in Scotland to full fibre broadband would create a £4.5 billion economic boost and help 37,000 more people to access employment, reduce pressure on transport and housing and support remote working.

Adam McVey, Council Leader, said: “The last few months have really reminded us how much we rely on good broadband for home working and staying connected with our loved ones. But we’re lucky to have a high-speed network in Edinburgh, one which has helped thousands of people to access the information and services they need and to effectively run businesses from home.

“Openreach’s project is rolling out full fibre digital infrastructure to communities right across the City, at a time when digital inclusion will be absolutely key for tackling inequalities, driving forward our net zero carbon plans and sustainably rebuilding our economy.”

Cammy Day, Depute Leader, said: “Technology is the way ahead and further work to improve speeds and connections is to be welcomed - particularly as businesses start to embrace remote working longer-term.

“We know that Edinburgh is one of the UK’s most trailblazing smart cities and that a big part of our recovery from this crisis will involve being innovative and having access to the right tools to support study, work and home life. This roll-out is a prime example of how we continue to lead the way in connectivity, and will help to deliver our smart city ambitions to become a data capital city!”

Liz McAreavey, Chief Executive of Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce, added: “Many of our members have used Edinburgh’s strong, existing connectivity to adapt and keep going during the lockdown. Openreach’s significant build of full fibre in Edinburgh – which has now reached around a third of all city premises – takes this to the next level. It offers many businesses a competitive edge now, when they most need it, and gives the city a fantastic digital platform for the foreseeable future.”

Openreach has recently expanded its UK national plans and will now make FTTP technology available to 4.5 million homes and businesses across the UK by the end of March 2021 – an increase of 500,000 premises. By the mid-to-late 2020s the company wants to reach 20 million premises – almost two thirds of the UK – assuming the right conditions are in place to support investment.

Other Openreach full fibre locations in Scotland include parts of Greater Glasgow, Kilmarnock, Ayr and Stanecastle in Ayrshire, Aberdeen, and Bathgate, Broxburn and Whitburn in West Lothian. The company is currently considering locations for further investment in Scotland.

 This short video explains what full fibre technology is and you can find out more about our Fibre First programme here.


Ten fantastic full fibre facts:

  1. Connecting everyone in Scotland to full fibre broadband by 2025 would create a £4.5 billion boost to the nation’s economy.
  2. Fibre optics are strands of glass around one tenth the thickness of a human hair. They transmit data using light signals.
  3. A single strand of fibre can provide enough capacity to serve up to 32 individual properties with gigabit speeds.
  4. Pure fibre optic broadband can run at speeds of 1 gigabit per second (1000Mbps) – that’s more than 15 times faster than today’s UK average broadband speed. You can download a two-hour HD film in less time than it takes to make a cup of tea. And video gamers could download a 5-gigabyte virtual reality (VR) game in 1.7 minutes, instead of waiting half an hour.
  5. More people getting online at the same time is easier too – a family of four can all stream ultra HD or 4k quality video simultaneously, without waiting or buffering.
  6. Full fibre is more reliable than traditional copper connections. A full fibre broadband signal isn’t affected by external interference whereas copper can be impacted by outside electrical signals – including electric fences and even bad weather! 
  7. A fibre optic cable can send a signal over 120 miles without any real loss of quality. Traditional copper cables can lose signal at around one mile.
  8. Full fibre is better for the environment – the amount of electricity used to power fibre is significantly less than needed for copper cables. Better connectivity also enables more people to work from home – which cuts down on commuting. Research suggests fibering up the whole of the UK could save 300 million commuting trips – reducing carbon emissions by 360,000 tonnes.
  9. Full fibre can boost business productivity. It enables cheaper broadband powered phone services, and better access to cloud-based computing services. For example, full fibre connectivity combined with cloud computing means businesses can upload, store, access and download vast amounts of data in minutes instead of hours. Data is backed up and securely archived off-site so not relying on costly, ageing servers taking up expensive office space.
  10. Full fibre broadband will be crucial in supporting plans to give NHS patients access to ‘virtual clinics’ where patients who don’t physically need to come hospital can get a video consultation with their doctor. It can also allow hospitals to share HD quality graphics of medical scans in seconds to improve diagnosis speeds. For example, medical staff can download a 2 gigabyte CT scan in 40 seconds, instead of 14 minutes.