Ultrafast broadband for Dumfries internet not-spot

Summer Stevenson overlooking lodge park

RESIDENTS in a Dumfriesshire internet black-spot now have access to ultrafast, full fibre broadband – thanks to new funding from the Reaching 100% (R100) Scottish Broadband Voucher Scheme (SBVS).

The complex digital upgrade of 57 properties – which includes a local residential and holiday park – has now been completed in Mouswald, giving residents access to gigabit-capable, ultra-reliable broadband after years of patchy and slow connections. 

It’s the first and largest of seven community projects being delivered by Openreach this year using SBVS – the smallest, for just 10 households, is in Glenfarg, Perth and Kinross. The company expects to complete work on a further 13 projects using SBVS funding during 2023.

Game-changing new speeds in a settlement that can trace its origins back to the 9th century mean present-day residents such as Mark Smith, a church minister, can now work from home, make video calls, watch his smart TV and use multiple devices at once, none of which was possible prior to the upgrade.  

Community Council Chair and local campaigner Mark said: “After almost four years of campaigning, it’s fantastic to finally have broadband speeds that allow us to do normal tasks most people will take for granted. 

“As a church minister, when worship moved online during the pandemic, it was a huge struggle to upload pre-recorded services and was completely impossible to livestream anything directly from home.

“I’ve seen first-hand the range of benefits better broadband has brought to the residents of Mouswald, from being able to video call family members, more easily run businesses or work from home, to simply watching a favourite TV show on catch up.”  

Mark, a father of five, also said that he and his wife can now enjoy longer visits from their grown-up children, who can visit over a weekend, or longer, and work remotely from their home. This was virtually impossible prior to the upgrade.

The area is also set to benefit from the Scottish Government’s Reaching 100% build programme, with Openreach continuing work to bring ultrafast full fibre to some further outlying properties next year. Local people can check the latest info for their address on the R100 website.

Business Minister Ivan McKee said: “This is great news for the community in Mouswald who have worked hard with Openreach to deliver a gigabit capable service using the Scottish Government’s R100 Scottish Broadband Voucher Scheme.

“This new network will benefit all the connected residents and businesses enabling them to work, learn, and stream online at speeds multiple times faster than before.

“I would encourage other communities, businesses or individual households that need faster broadband to consider the R100 SBVS as a potential solution, which has already delivered more than 2,600 new connections across Scotland.”

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

Robert Thorburn, partnership director for Openreach Scotland, said: “While many households in Mouswald were upgraded in previous investment cycles, these 57 properties missed out. It’s been a long path for the affected residents, but they never gave up.

“We were determined to find an answer for them, and the Scottish Broadband Voucher Scheme provided the additional funding needed to let us go ahead with a full fibre build.”

He added: “The upgrade delivers ultra-reliable, fast and future-proof broadband links. We’re thrilled that these households finally have access to brilliant broadband – and we plan to build even more full fibre locally under the R100 programme.”

One local business to benefit is Mouswald Lodge Park, an award-winning site offering breath-taking views from its holiday homes and hot tub lodges. The park’s permanent residents all now have fibre broadband direct to their doors, and it’s planned to extend the technology to the park’s holiday homes too.

Director Sarah Taylor said: “The difference for our office operations with fibre broadband is huge. The service used to be so slow it took forever to do anything – now it’s like lightning!”

As well as delivering the R100 contracts, Openreach’s own £15 billion fibre investment across the UK has already reached more than nine million premises, including 750,000 across Scotland so far. People can check what’s available for their address and register for updates at www.Openreach.com.

The Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr) estimates that connecting everyone in Scotland to full fibre broadband would create a £4.5 billion boost to the economy. You can find out more about the build programme, latest availability and local plans here.

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