A FORMER fishing town on the Moray Firth coast is to be the first community in Scotland to get superfast broadband as part of a £410 million publicly funded project.
Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced that Buckie will be the first town to benefit from the next-generation broadband services in rural Scotland.
The new fibre “backbone” will extend to remote communities across Scotland and provide a platform for future economic development and regeneration.
Local businesses welcomed the decision and said there would be considerable benefits for firms and residents. Some companies currently pay for extra lines to ensure documents and services can be delivered.
Fiona Toovey, the administration manager at Forsyths fabrication yard in Buckie, said: “It should improve our communications with a lot of our customers and speed up the whole process, particularly if we are transferring large documents.
“It could even make Buckie a more attractive proposition for companies looking to move to the town.”
She added: “The connection at the moment is quite slow and we have installed a leased line which has cost us quite a lot of money but guaranteed us a slightly higher download and upload speed.”
Buckie has a population of about 8,000 and was once a thriving fishing and shipbuilding port. Fishing is still an employer although many residents work in the offshore industry or in support firms.
The Scottish Government said the upgrade signalled the start of the “most challenging next-generation broadband project” anywhere in the UK.
“Around 400 premises in Buckie can now order fibre services and this figure will increase to more than 5,300 as BT engineers complete the local upgrade in the weeks ahead,” a spokesman said.
Ms Sturgeon added: “The scale of the challenge of delivering fibre broadband into rural Scotland outstrips any other part of the UK. This is one of the most ambitious broadband infrastructure projects ever to have been undertaken and will see 95 per cent of premises in Scotland covered by 2017-18.”
Laura Cruickshank, from Moray Chamber of Commerce, welcomed the decision: “This is great news for Moray and fantastic for Buckie businesses.”
Gordon McDonald, the SNP councillor for Buckie, said: “This is going to be transformational for Buckie. It’s great news
because it opens up all sorts of opportunities for the town.
“The argument has been that the North-east has been on the periphery with what is going on in the Central Belt, but the whole emphasis will change with
offshore renewables and the expansion of the oil industry, and it puts Buckie in a very good place, as well as the Highlands and Islands.”
The Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband project is being delivered in two parts – one covering the Highlands and Islands and the other the rest of Scotland. Both projects are being delivered on the ground by BT.