South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth this week visited Openreach engineers working on one of the first installations of ultrafast broadband technology for homes in Dumfries.
He saw a ‘full fibre’ network being built directly into homes at The Laurels to deliver ultrafast internet connections. The future-proof, reliable services can carry speeds up to 1Gbps1 – around 18.5 times faster than the UK’s current average, which recently topped 54Mbps according to Ofcom.
The MSP also got an update on superfast services locally as he saw the inner workings of a nearby fibre street cabinet2. According to the independent website Think Broadband, 84 per cent of premises in Dumfries and Galloway are now able to connect to broadband at a superfast speed of 30Mbps and above.
Superfast services make use of street cabinets (known as Fibre-to-the-Cabinet or FTTC) while ultrafast full fibre (Fibre-to-the-Premises or FTTP) goes directly to peoples’ homes.
Mr Smyth said: “Good connectivity underpins a strong local economy, and it’s especially important in rural areas whether you’re a farmer accessing markets or a business with competitors on a national or international scale.
“With around 10 per cent of Dumfries and Galloway households still only able to get a broadband speed of less than 10Mbps, it’s essential that progress continues at pace.
“Full fibre, where the fibre runs directly to people’s homes, is the future for Scotland so it was really useful to see how it’s constructed and learn about the benefits it will bring to communities and businesses across Dumfries and Galloway. We’re in the very early stages but it’s good news that some local households already have access to his next generation of digital technology.
“The right policies need to be in place to remove barriers to a swift rollout and let digital network builders get on with the job.”
As well as its commercial investment in upgrades, Openreach has been working closely with the Scottish and UK Governments, local authorities and other partners since 2013 to bring fibre-based broadband to communities which were not included in any upgrade plans by private companies.
The Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband partnership rollout has reached more than 58,000 Dumfries and Gallloway households and businesses, with most able to access FTTC broadband and small deployments of FTTP in areas where it’s the best technical solution.
Brendan Dick, chair of the Openreach board in Scotland, said: “We know good, reliable broadband is really important to local people. There have been big improvements in Dumfries and Galloway, but we know there’s more to do.
“We welcomed the opportunity to show Colin Smyth MSP our network and see an example of the next generation of broadband already live in the town. Our engineers work hard every day to keep local communities, businesses and vital public services connected.”
Openreach’s FTTC footprint, at speeds of up to 80Mbps*, currently passes around 2.6 million homes and business premises in Scotland. It’s also starting to roll out FTTP more widely, with plans to reach four million homes and businesses across the UK by March 2021, and, if the conditions are right, to go significantly beyond.