Aberdeenshire, Scotland receives £10.5m full-fibre network investment

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Aberdeenshire Council has invested £10.5m in a full-fibre project spanning up to 200km.

The work was awarded to SSE Enterprise Telecoms and the project’s aim is to improve the delivery of public services to the community. 

The project comes under the banner of the Aberdeen City Region Deal (ACRD), which was announced in 2016. It is part of a funding allocation designed to improve the region’s digital infrastructure. The terms of the deal commit both the UK Government and Scottish Government to jointly investing up to £250m whilst Aberdeen City Council, Aberdeenshire Council and local partners are committed to investing up to £44m over the next 10 years.

At the core is the need to deliver ultrafast connectivity and to use this to: deliver excellent public services; grow existing businesses; attract further investment; create new businesses; support mobility; protect the environment; and enhance the area’s attractiveness as a place to live and work. 

Under the 10-month project, SSE Enterprise Telecoms will combine its existing extensive fibre network with physical infrastructure access (PIA) to create a new dark fibre network. The project will provide gigabit dark fibre to public sector locations such as schools and NHS sites in a number of towns in a belt around Aberdeen. Aberdeenshire Council, Aberdeen City Council and NHS Grampian will benefit directly as the users of the fibre to deliver services and improve efficiency. I

The end-to-end network will initially connect 189 public sector sites across the region. This will then be supplemented with 130km of new dark fibre network that will be created to maximise the number of premises served for the budget.

Public sector director at SSE Enterprise Telecoms, Martin Samuel said: ‘Improving the region’s digital infrastructure is key to the long-term sustainable future of the local economy. This collaborative partnership is about maximising Aberdeenshire Council’s resources and providing the best value for money possible.’

Jim Gifford, chair of the Aberdeen City Region Deal Joint Committee, and leader of Aberdeenshire Council added: ‘The digital elements of our City Region Deal are among the most important, in terms of helping businesses and communities see a demonstrable change thanks to the Deal. The ACRD remains about being progressive, delivering tangible benefits and laying out a road map for the future to ensure the ongoing stability of our region. We can all agree that in the current circumstances that is almost more important than ever.’

UK Government Minister, Douglas Ross said: ‘The coronavirus pandemic has reinforced how critical digital infrastructure is to everyday life and businesses across the country, so I’m pleased the UK Government is able to support this rollout of full fibre connectivity to communities as part of its £125m Aberdeen City Region Deal investment.’

 Michael Matheson, cabinet secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity concluded: ‘The deal, which was signed in 2016 under different circumstances, will now be even more crucial to the recovery of the region’s economy following the Covid-19 pandemic, and complements our commitment to deliver superfast broadband access to every home and business in the country through the R100 programme.’

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