Communities in the north of Scotland are to be the first to benefit from superfast fibre broadband.
Around £260 million is being invested by BT and public bodies in rural areas. More than 16,000 homes and businesses on the outskirts of the Highland capital Inverness, and along the coast into Moray, will be the first to benefit.
Ardersier, Buckie, Milton of Leys, Fortrose, Hopeman, Inverness Culloden, Lhanbryde and Lossiemouth areas will be amongst the first to be able to access fibre broadband services, which provide speeds of up to 80Mbps, from early 2014.
Read our guide to Rural Broadband in the UK The Highlands and Islands rural broadband project is being led by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) and delivered by BT. It is funded by the Scottish Government, Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK), HIE and BT.
Stuart Robertson, Highlands and Islands Enterprise’s director of digital, said: “This first roll-out will be available to customers who are connected to a number of street cabinets within the eight exchange areas.”
“Homes and businesses will be able to check availability over the coming weeks and there will be further work carried out in these areas to extend the reach as the roll-out progresses.”
BT is to lay more than 800km of fibre backbone cable on land, and 400km more via 20 subsea crossings as part of the project.
Brendan Dick, director of BT Scotland, said of the plan: “It is crucial if local businesses are to continue to thrive in a competitive environment.”
It is hoped that 84 per cent of Scotland will have access to higher-speed broadband by the end of 2015, increasing to 95 per cent within two years.
By 2020 HIE’s ambition is that everyone in the Highlands and Islands is able to access broadband download speeds of at least 30 Mbps.