Almost a million premises have been connected to fibre broadband across Scotland – with enough cable laid to stretch from Edinburgh to Melbourne in Australia.

More than 950,600 households and businesses have been reached through the £463m Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband rollout, according to final data on the programme, which began in 2014.

Business minister Ivan McKee joined a piping ceremony in Luss on the banks of Loch Lomond as infrastructure giant Openreach revealed it had connected 150,000 more properties than planned.

He said: “The DSSB programme has been truly outstanding. It exceeded expectations, in the end delivering fibre broadband to more than 950,600 homes and businesses across Scotland.

“The way we work and live our lives has changed dramatically in the past year, and by providing decent, reliable broadband the DSSB programme has helped many people to work, learn and stay in touch with family and friends from their own homes.”

He added: “I’m delighted to be here in Luss with our delivery partners Openreach.

“This village is a great example of a rural community benefitting from fibre broadband. Across the country more than 97% of homes and businesses now have access to fibre-based broadband and the transformative benefits for work and social life it offers.”

The rollout has reached people, homes and businesses as far apart as Gretna Green in Dumfries and Galloway and North Roe in Shetland.

The programme’s target to extend fibre-based broadband services to 95 per cent of Scottish homes was completed, on time, at the end of 2017. The build continued into 2020 thanks to efficiencies and reinvestment driven by strong take-up, benefiting thousands of additional households and businesses.

Engineers laid 16,730km of new cable, including 400km of sub-sea cable to connect islands – enough to stretch from Edinburgh past Melbourne in Australia – with 5,078 new fibre cabinets offering broadband services at speeds up to 80Mbps1.Thousands of properties reached in the programme’s final year can connect to gigabit-capable, ultrafast full-fibre technology.

Robert Thorburn, partnership director for Openreach Scotland, said: “We’re thrilled to see the transformative effect of better broadband across every part of Scotland. This has been a really successful partnership, going much further than planned and reaching nearly a million homes and businesses which might otherwise have struggled through the pandemic.

He added: “Good connectivity has never been more important, and the huge expansion of the fibre network leaves a strong legacy to build on, including the deployment of 4G services in remote areas. We’re cracking on with the next stage of the journey.”

Gavin Stevenson, chief executive of Dumfries and Galloway Council and a member of the DSSB strategic management board, said: “Vibrant, connected and empowered communities are essential to the future of Scotland.

“Covid has impacted on all of us and the past year has been incredibly difficult. I’m in no doubt that without the improvements to our rural broadband infrastructure, life would have been so much harder for many of our residents. “The vast digital network provided by the DSSB programme has been central to meeting this exceptional national challenge.”