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Community / Lerwick exchange to be upgraded to full fibre broadband

THE LERWICK exchange area is due to be upgraded to ‘full fibre’ broadband as part of plans to provide faster connections to 300,000 more homes and businesses in Scotland.

Project developer Openreach said full fibre is when pure fibre optic cables connect properties straight to the exchange.

This is a step up from the more common fibre to cabinet, which connects fibre optic cable to green cabinets before copper wires link these to properties.

Full fibre is said to be have download speeds of up to one Gbps, and is up to 10 times faster than the average home broadband connection.

Openreach said more than 60,000 homes and businesses in the Highlands and Islands will benefit from the new investment, with exchange areas in towns such as Kirkwall, Wick, Dingwall and Stornoway all included.

The company is also delivering the main build for the Scottish Government’s delayed R100 programme, which initially aimed to bring superfast broadband – speeds of at least 30Mbps – to every home in the country by 2021.

Economy secretary Kate Forbes said: “This is good news for the Highlands and Islands. The rollout of ultrafast broadband to so many more rural communities is vitally important, especially as we focus on recovering from the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Continued commercial build is an important part of the Reaching 100% Programme’s aim to provide access to superfast speeds for all premises.

“This focus on rural and hard-to-reach areas is exactly what I want to see and I look forward to hearing that these 60,000 addresses are connected.”

Robert Thorburn, Openreach Scotland’s strategic infrastructure director, said: “Building a new broadband network across Scotland is a massive challenge and some parts of the country will inevitably require further public funding.

“But our expanded build plan means any future taxpayer subsidies can be limited to only the hardest to connect homes and businesses. And with investments from other builders, we’d hope to see that shrink further.”

The new investment has been described as a “massive, nationwide five-year feat of civil engineering”.

It means Openreach will now build full fibre technology to a total of 25 million UK premises.