Two of Scotland’s small, remote mainland communities will see their broadband speeds surge to among the fastest in the UK in a new Openreach initiative unveiled today.
Ultrafast fibre will be laid straight to the door in the Caithness and Sutherland communities of Altnaharra and Skerray by Bettyhill, with villagers set to see their download speeds rocket from less than 0.5Mbps to up to 330Mbps by this autumn.
Villagers are also doing their bit to help, by working with Openreach to dig in cables to more remote premises. People will be able to migrate to the new Fibre-to-the Premises (FTTP) services once the work is complete, as this process is not automatic.
The work will also help to address a high fault rate in Skerray, where existing copper cables buried under the beach have suffered regular damage by lightning strikes.
Visiting the two villages today, Openreach chief executive Clive Selley said: “As our core fibre spines penetrate even deeper into rural Scotland, it brings new opportunities to improve broadband speeds for remote communities.
“In Altnaharra and Skerray we’re assessing a new concept, building fibre from new nodes off the spines direct to local properties with support from the local communities. This builds on recent partnership and commercial investments in the Highlands and Islands.
“We’ll test how we can use the spines to reach very rural communities, and the distances over which we can use fibre effectively. Our learning from these innovative trials will inform our wider fibre strategy and could potentially help us to reach other very remote communities around the UK.
“The two pilot communities will see their broadband speeds jump dramatically, as well as improvements to their existing services, so this is a win-win situation.”
The two new initiatives are being funded by Openreach, with both communities pledging to help with some of the digging work.
In Altnaharra, the Altnaharra Estate will dig in new cable which crosses its land while in Skerray, residents who live some distance from the core network have agreed to dig in sections of cable to their properties, to specifications agreed with Openreach.