An extra £3 million is to be invested in the rollout of high-speed broadband in rural parts of north Scotland as a result of strong uptake of fast connectivity.
It will mean 30,000 more properties than originally planned will receive superfast internet capabilities, while hundreds of additional homes in some of Scotland’s most rural areas will be able to access full fibre-to-the-premises services.
Under the terms of its contract with Digital Scotland, a share of the income generated by Openreach is required to be paid back to the Scottish government and Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) once a certain uptake threshold has been reached.
With more than 60 per cent of homes now using a superfast internet connection, this clause has been triggered and Openreach has opted to return the funds earlier than planned.
Bruce McClory, Openreach’s service delivery manager for Argyll and Bute, said the move will put hundreds of the country's hardest-to-reach homes "at the forefront of the UK’s shift to a full fibre network".
The investment was announced by the Scottish government's minister for energy, connectivity and the islands Paul Wheelhouse during a visit to Taynuilt, where he was experiencing how the latest fibre technology is being used to connect homes in the region.
Mr Wheelhouse noted the Digital Scotland project has helped transform connectivity in the Highlands and Islands. At the start of the scheme, just four per cent of homes in the region had access to superfast broadband, while today that figure stands at 85 per cent and attention is turning to even faster FTTP solutions.
"Grimsay and Great Bernera in the Outer Hebrides recently became our first fully ultrafast capable islands. We're now set to see similar coverage in other areas that have been challenging to reach, including Waternish and Glendale in Skye," he continued.
"I’m delighted that as a result of great take-up of services in the region, even more people across the area will benefit from the full fibre network."