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John O'Groats, Keiss and Lyth benefit from broadband rollout


By Alan Hendry

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Some 3300 households and businesses in the Highlands can now connect to better broadband speeds through the R100 programme.
Some 3300 households and businesses in the Highlands can now connect to better broadband speeds through the R100 programme.

Three areas of north-east Caithness are among the latest to benefit from a £600 million Scottish Government scheme aimed at ensuring every home and business has access to full-fibre broadband.

Around 3300 households and businesses in the Highlands can now connect to better broadband speeds through the Reaching 100 per cent programme, known as R100, and more are set to follow as digital upgrades continue.

Full-fibre technology is now available to 40,000 of what are termed Scotland’s hardest-to-connect properties, with the R100 rollout reaching "selected households and properties" in John O'Groats, Keiss and Lyth as well as many other locations across the region.

Full-fibre broadband is more than 30 times faster than the superfast services the Scottish Government originally pledged to make available to homes and businesses with existing connections of less than 30 megabits per second (Mbps).

People can check whether the rollout has reached their address yet and register for updates at www.openreach.co.uk/r100

Registrations help Openreach to plan the best way to meet the level of demand in each community. Once full fibre is available, people can arrange for their service to be upgraded through their chosen provider.

The Scottish Government's innovation minister Richard Lochhead said: “It’s hugely important for homes and businesses to benefit from a full-fibre upgrade in places such as John O’Groats and Lyth.

“The R100 contracts are delivering future-proofed digital infrastructure that will underpin economic growth and enhance the economic prospects of communities across Scotland for decades to come.

“Digital connectivity is transforming how we live our lives. It connects us in new and different ways, improving public services and helping businesses develop new products and reduce costs.”

Full-fibre broadband is said to give more reliable and resilient connections with fewer faults, consistent speeds and enough capacity to meet growing data demands across multiple devices.

The R100 rollout has reached 'selected households and properties' in Caithness and many other parts of the Highlands.
The R100 rollout has reached 'selected households and properties' in Caithness and many other parts of the Highlands.

Robert Thorburn, Openreach partnership director for Scotland, said: “The R100 programme is bringing fast, reliable broadband to the hardest-to-reach places in Scotland, with lots of new work starting in the weeks and months ahead.

“We’re working closely with Highland Council and our build partners to plan and deliver this huge civil undertaking with the least possible disruption to residents.

“It’s a complex build and our engineers and operatives may need to install new poles or ducts and cables to reach some households, so we want local people to be aware of the important work they’re doing.

“It’s a once-in-a-generation build which will give Scotland’s least-connected premises access to the best, most reliable broadband around.”

Other communities around the Highlands where selected properties are now benefiting from full-fibre broadband are Ardersier, Ballachulish, Corpach, Cromarty, Croy, Dochgarroch, Dores, Drumchardine, Duror, Fort William, Fortrose, Gorthleck, Kessock, Munlochy, Onich and Spean Bridge.

The Scottish Government announced at the end of 2017 that every home and business would have access to superfast broadband by 2021 under the R100 programme.

In December last year it emerged that the programme had failed to connect almost 94 per cent of properties in the Highland Council area.

Figures obtained through a Freedom of Information request by Conservative MSP Edward Mountain also revealed that the completion date was March 2028, which would make it seven years late.

Mr Mountain said at the time that the Highlands had been left languishing in the “digital slow lane”.


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