R100 programme deployment of superfast broadband gets underway

Major infrastructure work is now underway to make rural Scotland one of the best digitally connected places in Europe.

Work has begun in the South of Scotland to build full-fibre broadband infrastructure – funded through the Scottish Government’s Reaching 100% (R100) programme.

This new infrastructure is expected to be delivered to the first premises by the end of the year. Full-fibre connections are capable of delivering speeds 30 times faster than ‘superfast’ broadband.

The £600 million R100 programme will ensure every home and business in Scotland has the ability to access superfast broadband speeds, with many receiving full-fibre connectivity capable of a gigabit-per-second service.

Scotland’s Connectivity Minister, Paul Wheelhouse, said: “Digital Connectivity is increasingly important for our economy. However, in recent months, it has played a vital role in supporting our efforts to keep people safe during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, enabling online access to healthcare, family contact and supporting business resilience. It will also be pivotal for Scotland’s economic recovery.

“The Scottish Government recognises that reliable, fast and future-proofed internet connections are vital for the future economic and social wellbeing of communities. That is why, despite all regulation and legislation of telecommunications remaining the responsibility of UK ministers, we are investing Scottish Government resources to address gaps in coverage and ensure 100% superfast broadband access for all households and businesses.

“The start of contracted works to deliver the infrastructure element is a significant and welcome milestone for R100. Our investment will be truly transformative to Scotland’s economy and it will also support the green economic recovery by enabling more people to work locally, rather than commute. I am delighted that the Biggar exchange area will be one of the first areas to benefit from this.

“Over the coming weeks, I expect significant progress to be made and look forward to announcing further details on how we will deliver our commitment to address the unfairness created by a UK-wide market that has failed to commercially deliver coverage for large areas of Scotland.”

Openreach partnership director for Scotland Robert Thorburn said: “We’re delighted to be working in partnership with the Scottish Government on the South of Scotland rollout, bringing ultra-reliable, gigabit-capable, full-fibre broadband to the most difficult to reach addresses in this area – and continuing Scotland’s digital transformation.

“We’ve been working hard behind the scenes on detailed survey work for the South of Scotland area. Residents in communities like Biggar in South Lanarkshire will be seeing our engineers out and about working on the R100 full fibre build in the months ahead.”

Full fibre broadband installed through R100 to in the region of 20,000 addresses in the South Lot area will be capable of delivering speeds of up to 1,000 megabits per second (Mbps), or more than 30 times faster than the definition of ‘superfast’ broadband.