The first 1,400 premises in parts of Brodick, Lamlash, Shiskine and Whiting Bay in Arran and 800 in Cumbrae are now part of the brand new fibre optic network. Residents can check their telephone number or postcode on an interactive checker at www.hie.co.uk/whereandwhen .
This is just the start of roll-out and more will follow to complete those Arran villages begun and in others this year.
The roll-out is part of the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband (DSSB) project, led by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), to bring better broadband to homes and businesses which could not be reached by the private sector's commercial fibre broadband programme.
The coverage forms part of a three year £146m investment, funded by the SNP Government, UK Government, HIE and private sector partner BT, with engineers from BT's local network business Openreach delivering the project on the ground.
Kenneth Gibson MSP said:
“I am delighted that Arran and Cumbrae are now receiving the investment they need and deserve. It has been a long time coming and – initially – I had to persuade HIE to include Arran in the programme. Now that so much hard work is coming to fruition, HIE and BT must be congratulated for bringing vital service to these islands. At present plans are to cover 97% of the Arran, with an area around Machrie omitted for topographical reasons. I am pressing BT to look again at this and I have no doubt they will respond positively.” Stuart Robertson, HIE's director of digital, commented:
"It's great to see availability of next generation broadband arrive in Cumbrae and to the first homes in Arran slightly ahead of schedule. More will follow soon because of the public investment.
"As roll-out reaches our communities it's important to stress people aren't upgraded automatically. To obtain a fibre based service you have to order it though an Internet Service Provider."
BT Scotland fibre programme director, Liz Mallinson, said:
”It’s good news for homes and businesses that we have now connected Cumbrae and the first properties on Arran to faster fibre broadband. Thanks to the efforts of Openreach engineers and the challenging subsea cable-laying, more communities are benefiting from the faster speeds on offer. Whatever you do online you can do it better with fibre broadband.
“We’re proud to be at the heart of digital life in Scotland and now that we’ve got the first cabinets established in those areas we can grow our numbers and build a wider fibre footprint in 2016.”