BT has started providing high-speed broadband services to homes and businesses in the Outer Hebrides, marking a key milestone in its work to take broadband to the remotest parts of the UK.
The town of Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis, and the nearby village of Tong, are the first locations where services are going live, allowing 3,600 premises to access connections that offer speeds of up to 80Mbps.
BT said that it will continue to work in the area to ensure that all premises can access fibre services, which will be delivered as fibre-to-the-cabinet connections.
The switch-on of services comes after a hugely challenging rollout of around 250km of undersea cables in the Scottish islands.
BT chief executive Gavin Patterson paid tribute to his team for completing the rollout and touted the benefits it will bring.
“Thanks to [the team's] hard work over many months, people in the Western Isles can now begin to enjoy the benefits that fast, fibre broadband brings to these shores,” he said.
“This spider’s web of submarine fibre optic cables is delivering a seismic shift in communications for Scotland’s island communities, bringing them in closer touch with the rest of the world than ever before."
The rollout of services in the area has been funded by a £146m project to connect the Outer Hebrides with broadband in the years ahead. The majority of premises are expected to be able to access services by 2016.
Digital economy minister Ed Vaizey described the latest milestone as evidence that government funding for broadband is generating clear benefits.
"This is brilliant news for homes and businesses on the Outer Hebrides who can now, for the first time, access superfast speeds,” he said.
"The UK government is investing £120m in Scotland as part of its transformation of the UK's digital landscape that will see 95 percent of the nation have access to superfast speeds by 2017."
The switch-on comes just a week after it was confirmed that 95 percent of all premises in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly can now access superfast broadband services. Around 30 percent of the connections are fibre-to-the-premise.
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