Minister marks broadband milestone

Paul Wheelhouse, Minister for Energy, Connectivity and the Islands, visited Borthwickbrae in the Scottish Borders to unveil one of 5000 green cabinets now providing fibre broadband across Scotland as part of the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband programme.

The network of new street cabinets has helped the Digital Scotland project to make fibre broadband available to more than 936,000 Scottish homes and businesses. Deployment will continue until 2020.

The most northern cabinet in North Roe on Shetland serves just 17 households while the furthest south in Drummore, Dumfries and Galloway, connects 275. Cabinets in Langside in Glasgow and Muir of Ord in the Highlands serve the most properties, each housing more than 900 connections.

Engineers from Openreach have used more than 13,000KM of cable linking up the 5000 street cabinets to the core fibre network and homes – equal to the length of around 25 per cent of all the roads in Scotland.

However, the latest cabinets to go live will also be among the last for the programme, which is now building more full fibre directly in to people’s homes as the roll-out reaches increasingly remote locations.

Connectivity Minister, Paul Wheelhouse, commented: "The deployment of more than 5000 street cabinets shows the extent and scale of this nation-wide engineering programme.

“In the five years that it’s been operational, more than 936,000 homes and business have been reached across Scotland. Hundreds of small towns and communities, just like Borthwickbrae, have seen the boost which fibre broadband brings and the benefits it generates for businesses, community groups, organisations and individuals.

“Digital technology is at the forefront of today's society. Superfast broadband can help transform businesses by enabling them to stay connected with customers and colleagues. It has a positive impact, where fast, reliable connections enable everyone to learn, work, play and shop, all in the comfort of their own home."

To access the new services, people need to sign up with an internet service provider, as upgrades are not automatic. Web users can check the Digital Scotland website - scotlandsuperfast.com - to find out if fibre broadband is available and see what's happening with the rollout in local areas.

So far, more than 97.5 per cent of premises in Scotland are able to connect to fibre broadband. Without the programme, only around 66 per cent of homes and businesses would have access through upgrades from commercial suppliers.

The Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband programme is led by the Scottish Government and Highlands and Islands Enterprise in its region. Other funding partners include BT Group, the UK Government through Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK), local authorities and the European Regional Development Fund on behalf of the European Union.

BT Group has committed £146 million to the project, which has been delivered on the ground by engineers from digital network business, Openreach.

Ben Campbell, Partnership Manager for Openreach in Scotland, said: “Our cabinets are an everyday part of streets across Scotland, generally unnoticed but vital to everything people are doing online.

"Our hard-working engineers and contractors have played a massive part in bringing better broadband to the people of Scotland through these 5000 cabinets.

"Our focus now is on reaching the places where a cabinet isn’t the answer, by building full fibre networks capable of gigabit speeds.”

Sara Budge, Programme Director for Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband, said: “It's fantastic news that the programme continues to benefit residents and businesses across Scotland.

“I would like to thank Paul Wheelhouse and Openreach for helping us celebrate the fact that an amazing 5000 cabinets are now live and providing fibre broadband to communities across Scotland.

“With deployment continuing throughout the rest of 2019 and into 2020, we aim to deliver on our promise to improve broadband. We look forward to connecting more communities like Borthwickbrae in the near future."

Fibre broadband offers fast and reliable broadband connections at a range of speeds1 and there are many suppliers in the marketplace to choose from.

Whether customers own a business, work from home or want to keep in touch with friends and family, fibre broadband enables multiple users to connect to the internet at high speeds and get better, faster access to a growing range of online services and technologies in areas such as health and social care.

Further information is available on Twitter @ScotSuperfast or Facebook at www.facebook.com/scotlandsuperfast. For more news about Openreach in Scotland visit openreach.co.uk/scotlandnews


1 Wholesale services are available over the Openreach network to all service providers; speeds offered by service providers may vary. FTTC is available at speeds of up to 80Mbps. FTTP 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.

Notes to editors:

Due to the current network topography and the economics of deployment, it is likely that not all premises within selected areas will be able to access fibre-based broadband at the same point in the roll-out.

The Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband programme aims to provide fibre broadband infrastructure to parts of Scotland not included in commercial providers’ investment plans, and has reached around 95 per cent of premises when combined with current commercial roll-out plans.

About Openreach

Openreach Limited is the UK’s digital network business.  

We’re more than 35,000 people, working in every community to connect homes, schools, shops, banks, hospitals, libraries, mobile phone masts, broadcasters, governments and businesses – large and small – to the world. 

Our mission is to build the best possible network, with the highest quality service, making sure that everyone in the UK can be connected. 

We work on behalf of more than 665 communications providers like BT, SKY, TalkTalk, Vodafone, and Zen, and our broadband network is the biggest in the UK, passing more than 31.8m premises. 

Over the last decade we’ve invested more than £15 billion into our network and, at more than 190 million kilometres – it’s now long enough to wrap around the world 4,798 times. 

Today we’re building an even faster, more reliable and future-proof broadband network which will be the UK’s digital platform for decades to come. We’re making progress towards our full fibre optic network target to reach 25 million premises by December 2026. Research shows a nationwide Full Fibre network could potentially provide a £59bn boost to UK productivity.

To help build the new fibre network and deliver better service across the country – we’ve created and filled more than 9,000 apprenticeship roles in the last two years and we’re recruiting another 1,000 trainee roles in Openreach in 2021. We’re also building greener – we operate the UK’s second largest commercial fleet and want to help lead the transition to electric vehicles, with a target to transition our fleet to being electric in 2030. 

Openreach is a highly regulated, wholly owned, and independently governed unit of the BT Group. More than 90 per cent of our revenues come from services that are regulated by Ofcom and any company can access our products under equivalent prices, terms and conditions. 

For the year ended 31 March 2021, we reported revenue of £5,244m.

For more information, visit www.openreach.co.uk