Rural affairs secretary gets up to speed on broadband

MSP Mairi Gougeon

Local MSP and rural affairs cabinet secretary visits Openreach digital upgrades in Angus

MAIRI Gougeon MSP this week joined Openreach engineers in her constituency of Angus North and Mearns to check on the digital network’s rollout of ultrafast broadband.

The MSP, who’s also Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Islands, visited the village of Aberlemno – noted for its ancient Pictish stones – to see new full fibre technology and get an update on local upgrades.

Dozens of households in the parish are among 3,700 Angus properties – including 170 businesses – which can now connect to Openreach’s gigabit-capable broadband. Nearly half [45 per cent] have already upgraded, with work ongoing on the ground. A major build has started in Forfar, with hundreds more homes in line for upgrades this year.

In total, eight towns and villages across Angus including Brechin, Kirriemuir and Montrose will be upgraded under Openreach’s £15 billion plan to reach 25 million premises by 2026. Across Scotland, more than 680,000 homes and businesses can now access the ultrafast network, with one in four upgrading.

The company is also supporting the Scottish Government’s Reaching 100% programme, with many in Angus set to benefit. Additionally, those previously set to receive superfast speeds from the programme will now be upgraded to ultrafast full fibre instead.

Openreach operates Scotland’s largest broadband network, used by customers of companies like  BTSkyTalkTalkVodafone and Zen. Around 90 per cent of households in Angus can already access a superfast service at 30Mbps or more through its network.

Mairi Gougeon MSP said: “I‘m pleased to see the progress being made by Openreach to deliver full fibre in my constituency. It’s vital that local people can reap the full benefits of these amazing technologies.

“This significant local investment is great news for people living and working in Angus. I recognise that Openreach is playing a significant part in getting gigabit capable broadband to harder-to-reach homes across Scotland, including through its delivery of the Scottish Government’s R100 contracts.  

“At a time when the economy is on everyone’s minds, private and public sector investment in infrastructure which can help stimulate the local economy and provide new opportunities is absolutely vital.”

Full fibre broadband offers download speeds of one gigabit per second (1Gbps), which means it’s up to 10 times faster than the average home broadband connection, bringing faster game downloads, better quality video calls and higher resolution movie streaming.

It’s also less affected by peak time congestion, which means people can use multiple devices simultaneously, even when demand peaks in the evening, without the connection slowing down. That means more people can get online at the same time without experiencing stuttering, buffering or dropouts.

Robert Thorburn, partnership director for Openreach in Scotland, said: “We welcomed the opportunity to show our latest progress and share the challenges and realities of delivering life-changing digital infrastructure. We’re committed to a balanced build which benefits both urban and rural areas. Research shows full fibre broadband can supercharge productivity, help people into the workforce and create new employment.”

He added: “Local people may spot an increase in Openreach activity as we continue upgrades. We try hard to keep any disruption to a minimum by reusing our existing network where possible, but it’s not always straightforward. Occasionally we need to put up new poles or carry out roadworks safely, but the resulting benefits our network brings will be huge, varied and long-term for people across Angus.”

Openreach’s fibre build includes six million properties in the hardest-to-serve parts of the country defined by industry regulator Ofcom. Eight million UK homes and business can now order a service over the new network, including 680,000 across Scotland so far.

The Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr) estimates that connecting everyone in Scotland to full fibre would create a £4.5 billion boost to the economy. You can find out more about the Full Fibre build programme and check what broadband services are available at your address here.

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