Superfast broadband to be delivered to more Scottish towns

Engineers will roll-out superfast broadband to four more Scottish towns over the next year.Engineers will roll-out superfast broadband to four more Scottish towns over the next year.
Engineers will roll-out superfast broadband to four more Scottish towns over the next year.
Superfast broadband will be delivered to four more areas of Scotland over the next year as part of a multi-million pound roll-out of the technology.

The new sites, Kilmarnock in East Ayrshire and Bathgate, Broxburn and Whitburn in West Lothian, have been prioritised by Openreach, the UK digital infrastructure firm, after the Scottish Government's decision to extend rates relief on the new fibre broadband network.

The plans are part of a UK-wide roll-out which will see 74 locations benefit from the technology, with Edinburgh and Greater Glasgow previously announced.

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The Scottish Government's Connectivity Minister Paul Wheelhouse said: "We listened to industry and provided 10 years rates relief, five years more than the UK Government, with the aim of encouraging new investment in Scotland's fibre infrastructure network. I am pleased to see that decision yielding early results with this announcement by Openreach.

"Commercial investment is a critical element of delivering our ambition to deliver 100 per cent superfast broadband access to every home and business in the country, making Scotland one of the best-connected countries in Europe."

The project began in February 2018 and Openreach said more than 20,000 new homes are being connected every week. It claims more than 1.5 million homes and businesses now have access to faster, more reliable and future-proof, full fibre broadband.

However, Scottish Labour's connectivity spokesperson Colin Smyth said while the new investment was welcome, Scotland faced a "huge digital divide between urban and rural areas."

He added: "Fibre to premises should be the norm but Scotland remains far too far behind many other countries. With recent delays in the awarding of procurement contracts , it’s clear that the Scottish Government is going to fail to deliver its R100 programme by the end of 2021 as promised and as a result Scotland’s digital divide will grow.

"The fact the SNP Government cannot give a date when R100 will be delivered and the percentage of premises will be covered, speaks for itself .“

Clive Selley, chief executive of Openreach, said: "The Government wants to see a nationwide full fibre network and we're keen to lead the way in helping them achieve that."

He added: "We've been encouraged by the Scottish Government's move to extend rates relief north of the border. I'm convinced that prioritising investment in faster, more reliable and future proof broadband networks will prove to be a no-regrets decision for future generations."