Rural areas in the Scottish Highlands to get full fibre networks

Gigabit speed fibre optic broadband networks are set to be deployed in Inverness, Fort William, Thurso and Wick by March 2021, supported by the UK Government’s £9.5 million Local Full Fibre Networks (LFFN) initiative.

It is anticipated 152 buildings in the public sector, ranging from schools, libraries, council offices and NHS centres, will be able to access the broadband network as a result, marking a milestone in fostering connectivity in some of the hardest-to-connect areas in Scotland.

The creation of the network is further expected to lay the groundwork for Gigabit-speed fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) connections in the future; however, immediately the focus will be to support and develop Scottish Wide Area Network (SWAN) programmes and take the figure up from its present 6,000 sites.

In addition to the LFFN, the project will also be reinforced by the Department of Digital Culture Media and Sport (DCMS), the Highlands and Islands Enterprise, NHS Highland, Highland Council and Scottish Natural Heritage. Infrastructure will be laid by Cityfibre.

Drew Hendry, MP for Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey, said: “The Gigabit City steering group has been working to realise this cutting-edge high-speed fibre connectivity over the past year and today’s announcement will ensure we make significant progress towards that objective. As well as transforming internet connectivity in our public buildings, I would like to see our business community also benefit from this infrastructure in the future.

“The potential for Inverness and the wider Highlands really is enormous through improved productivity, inward investment and innovation. Instead of following, we will be at the forefront of the digital opportunities and that is certainly cause for celebration.”

Similarly, Head of Regional Development at Cityfibre, James McClafferty, commented: “[…] our fibre infrastructure is already transforming the delivery of public services – fit for the future.

“Better connectivity not only drives efficiency and improves the digital experience of staff and community members, it will also help position these areas for economic growth, investment and innovation.”