OPENREACH has announced plans to extend its ultra-fast broadband network to 60 towns and villages across Scotland.

Work is expected to start at many of the locations within the next 12-18 months. It will continue into 2024 in some areas, and is hoped to aid economic recovery from Covid-19.

The BT-owned firm - which maintains the telephone cables, cabinets and exchanges that connect buildings across the country - said the announcement is part a £12 billion investment to deliver full fibre broadband to 20 million premises throughout the UK by the mid to late 2020s.

The 60 places in Scotland are part of 251 earmarked across the UK for the new network.

Aviemore, Campbeltown, Cumnock, Dunbar, Kilsyth, Peebles and Thurso will be among the places to benefit.

Others include Dumfries, Lanark, Stonehaven, Elgin and West Kilbride.

Robert Thorburn, Openreach's partnership director for Scotland, said: "We've already upgraded hundreds of thousands of homes and business across Scotland to full fibre.

"As well as keeping the existing network running throughout the Covid-19 crisis, our engineers have safely, and with social distancing in place, continued building the new infrastructure to make sure that as lockdown restrictions ease our network is there to support families, businesses and the economic recovery."

He added: "Full fibre is more reliable and more resilient - meaning fewer faults and more predictable, consistent speeds.

"It's also 'future-proofed' to easily meet the growing data demands of future technologies."

Connecting all of Scotland to full-fibre broadband by 2025 would boost the economy by £5.5 billion, according to a report by the Centre for Economics and Business Research commissioned by Openreach last year.

The report also revealed 37,400 people across Scotland could be brought back into the workforce through enhanced connectivity.

Scotland's connectivity minister Paul Wheelhouse said: "Digital connectivity has played a vital role in supporting our efforts to keep people safe and connected during lockdown, and will play a pivotal role in plans for our strategic economic recovery from the pandemic, maintaining jobs and livelihoods and creating new skills and opportunities.

"This roll-out of gigabit-capable full fibre broadband access enabled by Openreach to these more rural areas is welcomed.

"Commercial developments like these all play their part in giving Scotland access to superfast broadband and complement the work that the Scottish Government is doing in the Reaching 100% Programme to deliver superfast access for all."

The full list is as follows: 

Ellon, Aberdeenshire
Inverurie, Aberdeenshire
Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire
Cowie, Aberdeenshire
Banff, Aberdeenshire
Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire
Peterhead, Aberdeenshire

Campbeltown, Arygyll and Bute

South Queensferry, City of Edinburgh

Alloa, Clackmannanshire
Sauchie, Clackmannanshire
Clackmannan, Clackmannanshire
Menstrie, Clackmannanshire
Alva, Clackmannanshire

Dumfries, Dumfries and Galloway
Maxwelltown, Dumfries and Galloway
Georgetown, Dumfries and Galloway

Cumnock, East Ayrshire
Auchinleck, East Ayrshire
Netherthird, East Ayrshire
Holmhead, East Ayrshire
Dalmellington, East Ayrshire
Galston, East Ayrshire

Lennoxtown, East Dunbartonshire
Milton of Campsie, East Dunbartonshire

Prestonpans, East Lothian
Cockenzie and Port Seton, East Lothian
Dunbar, East Lothian
Belhaven, East Lothian
Tranent, East Lothian

Kincardine, Fife
Kelty, Fife

Aviemore, Highland
Thurso, Highland

Penicuik, Midlothian

Buckie, Moray
Findochty, Moray
Buckpool, Moray
Elgin, Moray
Forres, Moray
Lossiemouth, Moray

Ardrossan, North Ayrshire
Saltcoats, North Ayrshire
Stevenson, North Ayrshire
Kilwinning, North Ayrshire
West Kilbride, North Ayrshire
Seamill, North Ayrshire
Dalry, North Ayrshire

Kilsyth, North Lanarkshire
Queenzieburn, North Lanarkshire

Galashiels, Scottish Borders
Peebles, Scottish Borders
Selkirk, Scottish Borders
Hawick, Scottish Borders

Girvan, South Ayrshire

Lanark, South Lanarkshire

Fauldhouse, West Lothian
Breich, West Lothian
Longridge, West Lothian