More areas in line for broadband
More householders and businesses will reap the benefits of broadband after the Scottish Government struck a deal with BT to upgrade a further eight rural telephone exchanges.
The exchanges in seven areas - Dumfries and Galloway, Lochaber, Skye and Wester Ross, Argyll and Bute, Moray, Caithness and Sutherland and the Scottish Borders - are currently operating at or approaching full capacity for broadband provision.
BT is already upgrading 71 similar exchanges across Scotland.
Welcoming the news, Enterprise Minister Jim Mather said:
"I know there is real frustration in some rural areas where households and businesses have been unable to obtain a satisfactory broadband service.
"That's why we are already acting with BT to improve Scotland's broadband infrastructure, with work underway to upgrade 71 rural telephone exchanges. We want to see as many people as possible benefit from broadband - particularly rural businesses - which is why we have, along with BT, identified a further eight exchanges to be upgraded.
"I am confident many people in these communities, including businesses which need a competitive advantage in the economic downturn, will benefit greatly from this initiative."
Brendan Dick, Director, BT Scotland, said:
"The huge popularity of broadband has led to demand outstripping capacity at some of our smaller rural exchanges, so this is good news for consumers and businesses who can't currently benefit from the technology. This latest announcement means we will be working with the Scottish Government to upgrade nearly 80 small exchanges across Scotland over the coming year."
Due to high broadband take-up, a number of telephone exchanges in rural areas of Scotland have not been able to accommodate new broadband users for some time because of capacity constraints. The Scottish Government announced in September 2009 that it was working with BT to agree an upgrade programme by looking at areas most in need. It was announced in December that 71 exchanges would be upgraded in Argyll and Bute, Ayrshire, the Scottish Borders, Dumfries and Galloway, Forth Valley, the Highlands and Islands, Lanarkshire, Lothian, Moray, Orkney, Renfrewshire, Shetland and Tayside. The first of these upgrades is expected to be complete in March.