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Superfast broadband boost for Buckie


By Calum MacLeod

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TENS of thousands of homes in Moray can look forward to being better connected after Openreach outlined its latest plans to make ultra-reliable and gigabit-capable full fibre broadband available in harder to reach communities.

More communities in Moray and the Highlands will receive a better broadband service following the latest round of investment by Openreach.
More communities in Moray and the Highlands will receive a better broadband service following the latest round of investment by Openreach.

North locations, including Buckie, Findochty, Buckpool, Elgin, Forres and Lossiemouth, are among 60 small and rural towns and villages across Scotland to be upgraded by Openreach, without taxpayer subsidy, allowing access to some of the fastest broadband speeds in Europe and helping boost their post-Covid economic recovery.

Work is expected to get under way in many of the announced locations within the next 12 to 18 months although, due to the size of the build, some places will see work continue into 2024.

The Moray and Highland locations are part of a wider announcement to make the new technology available to a further 3.2 million premises in the UK’s hardest to reach the 'final third'.

The build is at the forefront of a £12 billion investment, which will see Openreach’s ambition to connect Full Fibre infrastructure to 20 million premises throughout the UK by the mid-to-late 2020s – delivering significant economic, social and environmental benefits for rural and urban communities, assuming the right regulatory and political fibre enablers are in place.

Robert Thorburn, Openreach’s partnership director for Scotland, said: “We’ve already upgraded hundreds of thousands of homes and business across Scotland to full fibre.

"As well as keeping the existing network running throughout the Covid-19 crisis, our engineers have, safely and with social distancing in place, continued building the new infrastructure to make sure that as lockdown restrictions ease, our network is there to support families, businesses and the economic recovery.

“Many Scottish households and businesses can already switch to the new technology and hundreds of thousands more will follow in the months and years ahead, including in these harder-to-reach communities in the Highlands and Moray.

“People can check online and ask their broadband providers to find out more about the many benefits. Full Fibre is more reliable and more resilient – meaning fewer faults and more predictable, consistent speeds. It’s also ‘future-proof’ to easily meet the growing data demands of future technologies.”

There are clear economic benefits to building Full Fibre in more rural areas.

A report by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr), commissioned by Openreach last year, revealed that connecting everyone in Scotland to Full Fibre broadband by 2025 would create a £5.5 billion boost to the nation’s economy.

The report also revealed that 37,400 people across Scotland could be brought back into the workforce through enhanced connectivity.

Openreach chief executive Clive Selley said: “This year we’ve all seen the importance of having a decent broadband connection and at Openreach, we’re convinced that Full Fibre technology can underpin the UK’s economic recovery.

“Right now, we’re building a new, ultra-reliable full fibre network that will boost productivity, cut commuting and carbon emissions, and connect our families, public services and businesses for decades to come. It’s Ofcom’s proposals that give us the right conditions to build commercially in the hardest to reach areas.

“We’re determined to find inventive engineering solutions and effective partnership funding models to reduce costs and enable us to connect as many communities as possible across the UK without public subsidy.

“Openreach is leading the charge to help the UK Government achieve its target of making gigabit capable networks available nationwide by 2025. And we hope that by publishing our own plans, we can help ensure that taxpayers only fund connections in communities that really need public support.”

Scottish Government connectivity minister Paul Wheelhouse said: “Digital Connectivity has played a vital role in supporting our efforts to keep people safe and connected during lockdown, and will play a pivotal role in plans for our strategic economic recovery from the pandemic, maintaining jobs and livelihoods and creating new skills and opportunities.

“This rollout of gigabit-capable full fibre broadband access enabled by Openreach to these more rural areas is welcomed. Commercial developments like these all play their part in giving Scotland access to superfast broadband and complement the work that the Scottish Government is doing in the Reaching 100 per cent Programme to deliver superfast access for all.”

Openreach has already built Full Fibre technology to more than three million premises across the UK – including more than a quarter in the final third of the country. More than 120,000 homes and businesses have also signed up to Openreach’s Community Fibre Partnership CFP programme. A CFP enables the company to work with a local community to build a customised co-funded solution and bring fibre broadband to areas not included in any existing private or publicly subsidised upgrade schemes.

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