Knitting up a digital storm in Stirlingshire
A leading cultural centre based in an 18th century manor is now one of the best connected places in Scotland, opening up a wealth of online opportunities for crafters and students.
Gartmore House in rural Stirlingshire has hooked up to ultrafast, full fibre broadband after the £463 million Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband (DSSB) rollout delivered the Gigabit1 capable technology to the area.
The historic venue in the midst of a 50,000-acre Trossachs forest – which offers activities from crotchet and quilting to lace making and willow work – now has high-speed wifi for staff and visitors and has seen an increase in online bookings.
And it was knitting needles at the ready when the DSSB team met staff and crafters at the centre to hear about their experience and encourage take-up of fibre broadband services across rural Stirlingshire. Shaun Marley from Stirling Council also joined in the fun.
The Digital Scotland build now covers more than 17,300 Stirlingshire homes and businesses. Openreach engineers building the network on the ground have reached places like Balfron, Drymen, Fintry, Killearn and Tyndrum.
Fibre broadband offers fast and reliable connections at a range of speeds1 using Fibre-to-the-Cabinet (FTTC) or Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) technology.
Across Scotland, of the 944,000 homes and businesses now reached by the programme, more than 60 per cent have signed up and are now benefiting from the faster broadband speeds available.
The DSSB programme is delivered through two projects, led by Highlands and Islands Enterprise in its area and the Scottish Government in the rest of Scotland.
Funding partners also include the UK Government through Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK), BT Group, local authorities and the EU via the European Regional Development Fund, with Openreach leading the build on the ground.
Local people and organisations can check to see if the new fibre services are available to them at www.scotlandsuperfast.com/yourstreet
Gartmore House is a not-for-profit charitable trust which offers a range of arts and crafts residential courses and acts as a major venue for residential musical education in Scotland.
Connecting to futureproof, ultrafast fibre broadband has transformed how the centre operates and engages with prospective students and guests staying at the manor.
Peter Sunderland, Gartmore House Director, said: “The DSSB programme has benefitted both our employees and guests substantially. Our guests can enjoy higher speed wi-fi whether it be for business or leisure purposes, whilst our employees can now work at a faster pace, and more efficiently. This is great news, especially since we are a close, small-knit team.”
Peter added: “Using a reliable and robust broadband connection has also helped us secure more bookings for our creative courses and we’ve experienced an increase in enquiries locally and from around the world.
“It’s been such a huge benefit to have faster broadband, especially when we’re located in a rural area where previously slow connection speeds have caused us some difficulties in the past.”
Sara Budge, DSSB Programme Director, said: “It’s great to see local organisations like Gartmore House benefiting from better broadband speeds. Seeing first-hand the impact it has made economically and socially, by offering crafting courses and outreach programmes to gifted young musicians, truly shows the wider benefits of enhanced digital connectivity. Thanks to the £463 million programme more businesses and homes are able access and upgrade to faster broadband, resulting in a better online experience.
“Just remember upgrades are not automatic, so do shop around for the best deal which suits your needs at www.scotlandsuperfast.com/yourstreet.”
Stuart McMillan, Openreach Partnership Manager, added: “Scotland’s at the start of a journey to full fibre technology which will eventually replace the copper network which has kept us connected for the last century. In these final stages of the DSSB programme, our engineers are continuing to build full fibre networks for some of Stirlingshire’s harder to reach communities.
“Gartmore House is a great example of how reliable, fast connectivity can truly transform businesses and local organisations and help them to remain economically sustainable. They’re reaching more customers at home and abroad while the crafters we met are gaining new skills and new friendships.
“It’s heartening to see the powerful impact of digital connectivity and how an improved connection can change people’s lives.”
Councillor Margaret Brisley, Convener of Stirling Council’s Finance and Economy Committee, said: “Stirling Council is proud to have supported the roll-out of broadband connectivity across the area, which has helped more than 17,300 homes and businesses in Stirlingshire to access fibre services.
“We are delighted that through the programme, many rural communities in Stirlingshire are now able to benefit from better broadband connections and speeds.”
Research has suggested that every £1 of public investment in fibre broadband in Scotland is delivering almost £12 of benefits to the Scottish economy. The independent report commissioned by DSSB and undertaken by consultants Analysys Mason estimates the total benefit as £2.76 billion over 15 years.
 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.
Photo caption: (LH –RH) Samantha Lindsay-Dorward (DSSB), Stuart McMillian (Openreach Partnership Manager), Shaun Marley (Stirling Council) and Kate Findlay (residential course crafter).