HUNDREDS of homes and businesses in the Borders can now connect to high-speed fibre broadband thanks to a new project. Residents in West Linton, St Boswells and Kelso are the latest to get connected as part of the ?428m Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband roll-out. And Borderers can now sign up to the new faster services through their internet provider.
Fergus Ewing, cabinet secretary for the rural economy and connectivity, told us: “The Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband programme is progressing further and we are extending coverage in places like St Boswells.
“The Scottish Government is committed to delivering 100 per cent superfast broadband access across Scotland by 2021 and plans are currently being developed to ensure that this is the case.
“During the summer months our existing programme will continue to advance across the country, bringing high speed broadband to new rural communities.”
BT is also investing ?126m in the the project with is being led by the Highlands and Islands Enterprise in its area and the Scottish Government in the rest of Scotland.
Figures show that 77,000 premises were reached in the last six month period.
Robert Thorburn, BT Scotland’s Fibre Broadband Director, added: “We look forward to continuing work on this huge and challenging infrastructure project to benefit the people of Scotland.”
MORE than 550 homes and business in West Linton can now have access to high-speed fibre broadband thanks to the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband programme. About 24,700 households have already benefitted from the ?428 million scheme in the Borders, with 45 towns and villages getting access to the service, including Peebles, Galashiels and Selkirk. And more local coverage is expected to follow as engineers from Openreach – the local network business which is part of BT Group – continue work on the ground.
West Linton residents and business owners David and Estelle Weipers say their flower business, lintonblooms.co.uk, has benefitted from the new service. David told us: “With the new fibre service I have seen a significant improvement with the amount of devices that we are able to have connected in the house at the same time. Specifically, it allows Estelle and me to be able to work from home together.”
Estelle added: “I take orders over email and via the website, therefore having fibre broadband is essential for the running of my business. The flowers are ordered from Holland so I need to have access to a fast connection to ensure that the orders are processed effectively.”
Fibre broadband offers fast connections at speeds of up to 80mbps and there are many different suppliers to choose from. Sara Budge, programme director for Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband, said: “It’s fantastic news that the programme has been able to benefit David and Estelle and many others residents and businesses in and around West Linton.”
BT is investing ?126 million in the Digital Scotland rollout.
Robert Thorburn, the company’s Fibre Broadband Director, said: “Hundreds of West Linton residents can now connect to their best ever broadband speeds when they sign up with a service provider, and we’d encourage local people to check out their options.
“It’s a highly competitive market, so people could potentially be surfing at much higher speeds at a similar cost to their current service.
Once you’ve made the switch to superfast, like David and Estelle, we’re confident you’ll never look back.”
LIFE is somewhat slower on one side a street in Blyth Bridge. Online surfers were anticipating the digital revolution earlier this year with the installation of a fibre broadband cabinet in the village. BT Openreach engineers were on site for several days as the latest technology was hooked up.
And hopes were high that the days of buffering were finally over. But as quickly as hopes were raised in some households, they were dashed as it emerged one street wasn’t being connected. IT consultant Richard Jackaman is furious that seven properties in Mill Lade were left with their old router systems.
He told us: “I feel like we’re stuck in the 1980s.
“The new cabinet is at the end of our street – I walk and drive past it every day – yet we haven’t been connected to it.
“Most of the village is now enjoying high speed broadband while our street is the same as it was… you can’t open an email while watching i-player.”
Mr Jackaman’s neighbours in the next street currently enjoy broadband speeds of around 96 megabytes-per-second compared to his 1.5. The slow connection has restricted both Richard and his university-working wife in their online use.
He added: “Part of my job is to monitor video which I can’t do at home due to the line speed.
“There is plenty capacity in the cabinet and I would happily pay for the cabling myself.
“We have been trying to get answers why the houses in our street have been missed out but nobody has offered an explanation.
“We think they just forgot.”
It was only last month that several other villages in the Borders, including Broughton and Clovenfords, were connected to the Digital Scotland programme. And it was also rolled out to parts of Peebles which had previously been hooked up to outdated cabling. Amongst the next local communities which will benefit from the rollout is households in the Manor Valley.
We approached the Digital Scotland partnership about the speed segregation in Blyth Bridge. A spokeswoman for the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband project said: “Fibre broadband access was recently brought to the village.
“A small number of local houses unfortunately did not benefit under the current contract.
“We are continuing to work to reach as many premises as possible with the funds available through the current project, and will review the situation in Blyth Bridge as part of our regular deployment review process.”
BT is investing ?126 million in the projects with Openreach, its local network division, delivering on the ground. Other funding partners include the UK Government through Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK), local authorities and the European Regional Development Fund.
The independent Think Broadband website shows that nearly 87 per cent of Scottish premises can now access a broadband speed of 30Mbps or above.
The Digital Scotland spokeswoman added: “People can check what services are available and register for updates on the Scotland Superfast website.
“The Scottish Government has also committed to reaching 100 per cent of homes by 2021.”