A superfast country

Vivienne Seeley set up VivID, a graphic design consultancy, 15 years ago working from her home in St Boswells in the Borders. Seely creates brand identities, websites and marketing material for clients locally and across the UK.

Until recently, sending large files to clients and printers would take hours and the job would often have to be restarted from scratch if the internet connection dropped. Now, Seeley is one of more than 640,000 beneficiaries of the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband (DSSB) programme.

“Now, files are sent instantly. I just don’t have to think about the technology any more, I can get on with my business,” she said. With two teenage children and a husband who runs a recruitment company from home, Seeley said that before they had a fibre connection, all four of them would compete for the available bandwidth. “Our two businesses tended to come first, which meant that my sons were frustrated because they could not do what they wanted online such as play X-Box games or download videos,” said Seeley. “So it is fantastic for us that now everyone can enjoy the same fast speeds regardless of how many people are online at the same time.

“Graphic design is a competitive industry and now that I can be so much more productive, it is far easier to develop and grow the business. I can use Skype for meetings, saving time and money, and make more use of cloud computing. I will be able to work with clients and colleagues in London and elsewhere on a level playing field.”

VAL LAWRENCE RUNS a jewellery business from Bridge of Weir, with a 126-strong team across Scotland. “Until I had a fibre broadband connection, it was often impossible to work from home as the previous broadband connection was so slow – only 1Mbps. I would have to go into town and use a WiFi hotspot in a cafe. This was really frustrating as so much valuable time was wasted.

“Having a fibre broadband connection is absolutely fantastic. We can now rely on broadband speeds of around 35 Mbps, so now I can make full use of social media, which is my main selling tool. I can upload photos of the product line to Facebook instantaneously whereas it took ages before. I can also use video on social media for the first time. As jewellery is such a visual product, it makes a huge difference to the business to be able to show photos and videos easily. This is having a direct impact on sales revenue and will really help me grow the business.”

Connecting, on average, 7,000 premises a week in both rural and urban communities across the country, the DSSB programme is one of the most ambitious infrastructure programmes in Europe.

THE £410M programme involves installing fibre broadband across Scotland, connecting areas which weren’t going to be covered commercially. With more than 640,000 homes and business able to connect to fibre thanks to the programme, it is part of the Scottish Government’s plans to ensure that Scotland is a world-class digital nation by 2020.

The faster upload and download speeds fibre broadband brings is improving the quality of online experiences and supporting exciting new developments in internet services across the country. At home everyone can be online at the same time without screens freezing or quality being compromised, allowing families to download movies, play games and Skype at the same time.

For businesses, fibre broadband can have a major positive impact on productivity and also promote growth. The faster upload and download speeds enable them to take advantage of the latest business software through cloud computing, back up data instantly, make the most of digital marketing by working locally and competing globally through an improved online presence, reduce the need to travel by using video conferencing and work flexibly from the office, home or on the move.

SARA BUDGE, DSSB programme director said: “Fibre broadband is completely transformational, whether you have a family all wanting on the internet at the same time or if you have a small business or work from home. In terms of the micro and small business community, fibre broadband can completely change the way your business runs and performs.”

The programme aims to reach 95% of homes and businesses across Scotland by March 2018 and the next two years will see the programme deploying into rural and more remote areas. Budge added: “The fibre infrastructure, which will be in place for 95 per cent of homes and businesses across Scotland to access by March 2018, presents a fantastic opportunity for the future of Scotland and its economy. It’s vital that we encourage as many people as possible to get on board with this technology so that all the advantages – social, educational and business – come to fruition.”

She said: “Visit www.scotlandsuperfast.com to check if fibre broadband is available in your area, read more about the benefits and register for updates. Once it’s available you’ll need to contact your service provider to order the service.”

The programme covers both rural areas as well as small towns and areas that have not been reached commercially. Glasgow’s North West is one of the latest areas to benefit from the programme with around 300 more premises around Anniesland and Jordanhill among the latest to be reached. According to the independent Think Broadband website, nearly 99 per cent of premises in the North West parliamentary constituency are now able to access fibre broadband speeds of 30Mbps or above.

Local MP Carol Monaghan visited a local fibre cabinet on Southbrae Drive to explore the engineering behind the technology and hosted a digital drop-in session in her local constituency office to help constituents find out more. She urged local people to consider the benefits of a high-speed fibre broadband connection – which can be ordered through their chosen service provider – as upgrades are not automatic.

“Fibre broadband has an essential role to play in everyone’s lives – whether at home or in business. It’s great news that thousands of local people across Glasgow North West can now connect to this exciting technology if they choose. Broadband speed is a subject close to the heart of many of my constituents, and it’s good to see today the excellent progress that’s being made,” she said.

“The arrival of fibre broadband means local people and firms can do more online at faster speeds and on multiple devices and there’s lots of evidence to show it boosts the local economy. I look forward to fibre broadband being rolled out across the rest of my constituency.”