finance

Openreach extends fibre broadband to 300,000 'hard-to-reach' Scottish communities



Openreach has plans to extend fibre broadband to at least three million more homes and businesses in some of the UK’s hardest to serve rural communities.

This will include more than 300,000 sites in Scotland, with more than 160 exchange upgrades meaning the majority of homes and businesses in places like Fort William, Oban, Turriff, Burntisland, North Berwick, Pitlochry, Carstairs and Stranraer will benefit.

Island communities like Brodick on Arran, Portree on Skye, Stornoway, Kirkwall and Lerwick are also included in the plans.

More than 60,000 households and businesses will get fibre access across the Highlands and Islands, alongside 30,000 in Aberdeenshire; 20,000 in Angus; 30,000 in Dumfries and Galloway; and 25,000 across Ayrshire.

The company is also delivering the main build for the Scottish Government’s R100 programme.

The updated build plan follows an extended investment commitment by its parent BT Group, letting Openreach build fibre optic technology for a total of 25 million UK premises, including the additional three million in hardest-to-serve communities.

This includes extending its recruitment to help carry out the work, with a further 1,000 new jobs being created in 2021, on top of the 2,500 jobs announced in December; of which 275 were in Scotland.

Economy Secretary Kate Forbes said: “The rollout of ultrafast broadband to so many more rural communities is vitally important, especially as we focus on recovering from the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Openreach Scotland’s strategic infrastructure director Robert Thorburn said: “Building a new broadband network across Scotland is a massive challenge and some parts of the country will inevitably require further public funding.

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“But our expanded build plan means any future taxpayer subsidies can be limited to only the hardest to connect homes and businesses – and with investments from other builders, we’d hope to see that shrink further.”

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