MORE than 950,000 premises across Scotland are now able to connect to faster fibre broadband through the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband infrastructure build.

A £463 million partnership programme has reached the “amazing” milestone as it starts to draw to a close in its seventh year of deployment. The total includes more than 110,000 extra premises which were not originally expected to benefit.

Across the country, Openreach engineers have laid 16,730km of cable – enough to stretch to the South Pole and beyond – including 400km of sub-sea cable. Some 5078 new fibre street cabinets are now live. Before DSSB began, there were no plans for commercial fibre broadband rollout in Orkney, Shetland or the Western Isles – now more than 80% of premises in these local authorities can access fibre.

To mark the achievement, Connectivity Minister Paul Wheelhouse paid a physically distanced visit to Borders business Ridelines to hear how its superfast internet connection has helped during lockdown.

The company, based in Innerleithen, provides mountain bike courses and tuition in the Tweed Valley hills and countryside.

Wheelhouse said: “I’m delighted that the programme has far exceeded its expected delivery target at the outset and gone on to provide better broadband technology to more than 950,000 homes and businesses all over Scotland – an amazing achievement. In the Borders alone, access to superfast broadband has increased from 21% of premises in January 2014 to almost 88% now.

“Having fast and reliable internet is absolutely vital to communities across the country. That’s why it was fantastic to find out how Ridelines, an excellent local business, has been benefiting from the infrastructure delivered and that it has made such a difference to the day-to-day running of the business before and after Covid-19.”

Ridelines owner Andy Weir said: “Like any small business, the past few months have been challenging for us – but having fast, reliable broadband has helped. I’ve been able to upload blogs and videos to help keep in touch with clients. Before we had superfast broadband this would have been frustratingly impossible.”