More than 20,000 homes and businesses in and around Kilmarnock can now access some of the ‘fastest and most reliable broadband’ anywhere in the UK, thanks to engineers who worked during lockdown to connect the town to a new gigabit-capable network.

Key workers from Openreach continued to work through the pandemic to establish a connectivity milestone for the town based on full fibre broadband technology – where fibre optic cables are laid all the way from a local telephone exchange direct to people’s houses.

The new technology is now live in locations across Kilmarnock and local communities including Kilmaurs, Crosshouse and Knockentiber, with the majority of local homes and businesses now able to upgrade. Openreach has announced plans to build next-generation full fibre networks in 23 other Ayrshire towns and villages, including Auchinleck, Cumnock, Dalmellington, Gaston, Holmhead, Netherthird and Stewarton.

Katie Milligan, Openreach managing director (Customer, Commercial & Propositions), said: “As well as keeping the existing network running, we’ve continued building full fibre throughout the pandemic to make sure that, no matter what happens next, our network is there to support local families and businesses.

“We’ve made great progress in Kilmarnock, with 20,000 households now able to order an ultra-reliable, gigabit-capable service. The first customers have already connected and I’d urge everyone to check their options for upgrading now.

“Our investment will boost local businesses, support Kilmarnock’s economy and be brilliant for households juggling work and home life. We’re working hard to extend our build to as many local homes and businesses as possible and engineers will continue work in the town over the next few months.”

Full fibre technology provides more reliable, resilient and future-proof connectivity; meaning fewer faults; more predictable, consistent speeds and enough capacity to easily meet the growing data demands of future technologies. Local people can visit the Openreach website to check if they can upgrade.

Local MSP for Kilmarnock and Irvine Valley Willie Coffey said: “This is really welcome news especially at this time when people are becoming more reliant on digital technology to keep in touch with their families and friends. A big thank you to the Openreach team for continuing to work in very difficult circumstances too.”

Councillor Douglas Reid, Leader of East Ayrshire Council, said: “Kilmarnock is leading the way for ultrafast, future-proof, full fibre broadband, with almost 20,000 homes and businesses in the local area now able to upgrade. “Due to the pandemic, many of our residents are working from home. Access to faster, reliable broadband is essential to ensure that vital services continue to be delivered to communities and that local people can access essential services and items online.

“I look forward to more positive news as the build continues and to working with local communities to explore how we can make the most of East Ayrshire’s new, resilient technology.”

Recent research shows that connecting everyone in Scotland to full fibre broadband by 2025 would create a £4.55 billion boost to the nation’s economy, unlocking smarter ways of working, better public services and greater opportunities for the next generation of home-grown businesses.