South of Scotland MSP meets fibre apprentices
Trainees showcase ultrafast full fibre broadband progress during Scottish Apprenticeship Week
South of Scotland MSP Craig Hoy visited Openreach sites in East Lothian this week to hear from apprentice engineers about how the area’s ultrafast broadband build is progressing. The visit marked Scottish Apprenticeship Week 2022, which runs from 7-11 March.
Hoy, an East Lothian resident who also serves as a councillor in his local area of Haddington and Lammermuir, was shown engineering techniques and new equipment used to connect the full fibre network directly to local properties by apprentice engineers Hayley Goldthorpe and Lewis Murphy.
The new broadband technology has now reached around 11,000 households and businesses across East Lothian, with work continuing on the ground. Full fibre broadband is up to ten times faster than the average home broadband connection and provides more reliable, consistent speeds.
He also got an update on the uptake and delivery of superfast services locally. Superfast services make use of street cabinets, with fibre provided up to the cabinet. Local people can visit the Openreach fibre checker to see which services are available to them and ask their providers for upgrades.
Last month Openreach – one of Scotland’s leading private sector employers of apprentices – announced plans to create and fill around 500 more Scottish jobs during 2022, including 390 apprenticeships, as it continues to invest billions of pounds into its UK broadband network, people and training. The new posts include several in East Lothian.
Speaking after the visit, South of Scotland MSP Craig Hoy said: “It was great to meet some of the next generation of digital engineers, who’ll help to keep people in East Lothian and across Scotland connected to the latest, gigabit services. Apprentices are a vital part of the economy as they learn on the job, developing the skills they need to build successful careers.
“I was glad to hear that Openreach welcomes talented people from all walks of life and offers lots of opportunities for those who want to progress. I welcome their long-term commitment to apprenticeships, which will help them deliver high-speed broadband to local communities, and to improving diversity in their Scottish workforce.”
Fraser Rowberry, Openreach’s newly-appointed Chief Engineer for Scotland, who started out as an apprentice, hosted the visit.
Fraser, from Musselburgh, said: “We were pleased to have Craig here today to mark Scottish Apprenticeship Week and celebrate the work of our talented apprentices in helping to connect East Lothian homes. Having a reliable connection is now a necessity for individuals, families and the Scottish economy as a whole. Our growing team of apprentices play a vital role in making that a reality in communities across the country.
“East Lothian now has a very extensive superfast network and 93% of homes and buildings have access1, but there’s still plenty more to do. Our full fibre build, balanced across rural and urban locations, is reaching more premises each week. It includes 13 East Lothian towns such as Haddington, Belhaven, Gullane, Dunbar and Pencaitland where the majority of homes will be upgraded.”
1According to the independent website Think Broadband, around 93 per cent of premises in East Lothian are now able to connect to broadband at a superfast speed of 30Mbps and above.