SSE extends fibre network with Atlas acquisition

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SCOTTISH Enterprise has sold Atlas, its controversial fibre telecommunications network, to Scottish & Southern Energy.

The price has not been disclosed due to "strict confidentiality agreements" but it is thought to be less than the 10 million Scottish Enterprise has invested in the network. The deal does not include Atlas's six data centres.

The deal boosts SSE's UK telcoms cable network to 7,600 kilometres. SSE claims its telecoms division, Scottish & Southern Energy Telecommunications, is now the fourth-largest operator of its kind in the UK. Scottish Enterprise's initial estimated project value for Atlas was 30m. As part of the acquisition, SSE has committed to investing a further 1m to complete the development and integration of the network.

Adrian Pike, group managing director of contracting, telecoms and utilities for SSE, said Atlas customers would benefit from being connected to SSE's fibre network.

The network, which spans 55km across six Scottish business parks, was the brainchild of former Scottish Enterprise chief executive Robert Crawford, Charlie Watt, who was at the time SE's senior head of e-business, and former Scottish Labour leader Wendy Alexander.

The publicly-funded network, built in 2006, piqued the anger of a number telecoms firms and the project underwent scrutiny from the European Commission.

It links business parks in Aberdeen, Dundee, Riccarton outside Edinburgh, Strathclyde Business Park in Lanarkshire, West of Scotland Science Park in Glasgow and Crichton in Dumfries.