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Broadband roll-out sees 500,000 rural homes and businesses connected

The latest village to join the network is Gretna Green and the project is now two-thirds complete.

Installation: Engineers have connected Gretna Green.
Installation: Engineers have connected Gretna Green. ©btphotosbduk Creative Commons Cropped

More than 500,000 rural homes and businesses can now connect to high-speed broadband after the latest roll-out of a £410m programme.

The latest village to join the network is Gretna Green and the broadband project is now two-thirds complete.

BT Openreach engineers have fitted 2,200 street cabinets across the country and laid more than five million metres of fibre cable which, if laid end to end, would reach from Scotland to New York.

The broadband roll-out has already connected homes in the very north, Bod of Gremista in Shetland, and the most southern point of the country, the Isle of Whithorn in Dumfries & Galloway.

The Digital Scotland roll-out is made up of two projects - one led by Highlands and Islands Enterprise in the north of the country and the other covering the rest of Scotland, led by the Scottish Government.

Infrastructure secretary Keith Brown marked the latest stage at Gretna's famous Blacksmith Shop.

He said: "The start of 2016 marks a real high point in our progress towards ensuring world-class digital connectivity for Scotland by 2020. Our fibre infrastructure is growing rapidly and on average each week the programme reaches another 7,000 premises.

"Today's milestone is fantastic news for the 500,000 households and businesses across Scotland which would simply not have seen the benefits of high speed, high quality digital connectivity without the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband programme.

"It is among the most ambitious broadband infrastructure projects ever undertaken."

Lynda Denton, head of sales and marketing at Gretna Green Ltd, said: "Fibre broadband arriving to Gretna Green has really helped our business, we have over 850,000 visitors each year, including 1,500 couples who come here to marry in the historic Famous Blacksmiths Shop.

"Wifi being available is important, it provides our newlyweds and visitors, who come from all over the world, with the ability to share their photos and videos. It's a wonderful way for Gretna Green love to be shared with friends and family back home."

BT is investing £126m in the two projects, which are being implemented by engineers from its local network business, Openreach.

BT Scotland director Brendan Dick said: "We made good progress with the expansion of Scotland's fibre-based infrastructure in 2015, we've reached 500,000 premises with another 250,000 to be reached in the coming months.

"In total, more than 1.9 million Scottish premises can now get connected to high-speed broadband on our open network, with a wealth of choice in cost and services. Whatever you are doing online, you can do it better and faster with fibre.

"We're proud to be at the heart of digital life in Scotland and look forward to bringing high-speed services to some of our most remote communities in 2016."

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