BT is to expand its fibre network in Scotland, bringing superfast broadband to 277,000 homes and businesses.
The project, which will begin in 2012, will see BT roll-out its fibre optic network across 34 exchanges in the country, including Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow, and is part of the £2.5bn investment in next-generation broadband being made by the telecoms company.
The network will combine fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) technology – which sees fibre optic cables laid to street cabinets and then traditional copper cables used to connect homes and premises to the street cabinets – as well as fibre to the premises (FTTP) that continues the fibre link from the street cabinets to the premises.
"Superfast broadband will be welcomed by families throughout these 34 areas because it will help improve their quality of life and leisure and open new doors through online learning and fast access to information and services. And it's also going to provide a huge fillip (stimulus) for businesses," said Brendan Dick, director of BT Scotland.
"At a stroke, small and medium-sized firms will have access to big-business speeds at much lower costs, allowing them to find new markets, boost their competitiveness and create new jobs."
Scotland is not the only part of the UK to benefit in the next phase of BT's fibre rollout. In total, BT Openreach plans to add a further 178 exchanges, covering more than 1.8 million homes in areas such as Yorkshire, the Midlands and the South East.
Once these and previously announced exchanges have been upgraded, Openreach will have completed around 80 percent of its commercial fibre footprint, which will cover two thirds of UK premises by the end of 2014, the company said.
“We continue to make tremendous strides with our fibre programme. Super-fast broadband is already within reach of more than six million premises today and we are on track to pass ten million premises next year,” said Olivia Garfield, CEO of Openreach.
The news comes just weeks after the government revealed it plans to invest £100 million to create a number of 'super-connected' cities in the UK where residents and firms can access speeds of between 80 and 100Mbps.
The Urban Broadband Fund was announced in the Autumn Statement by Chancellor George Osborne last month. Edinburgh, London, Belfast and Cardiff will be joined by six other cities, which will be revealed in next year's budget, in receiving a share of the £100 million. The funding will be made available over the next three years.
The government has previously pledged £530 million to support the roll-out of superfast broadband to the third of UK homes and businesses that would otherwise miss out. The money will be divided between county councils, unitary authorities and local enterprise partnerships, all of whom will have to bid for their share of the fund.
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