Page last updated at 20:20 GMT, Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Rural broadband upgrade unveiled


Member's Debate

Work is under way to upgrade 71 phone exchanges across Scotland to improve internet access in remote areas.

They include Abbey St Bathans in the Borders where residents have run a campaign for broadband improvements.

Sites in Ayrshire, the Highlands and Islands, Lothian, Moray, Shetland, Orkney and Tayside are also among those which will see works carried out by BT.

Enterprise Minister Jim Mather said he recognised broadband could be a "vital tool for businesses and households".

Residents of Abbey St Bathans in Berwickshire recently handed over a petition to local MSP John Lamont raising their concerns.

Their village is included on the list across Scotland where upgrade works are either planned or already under way.

The first projects should be completed in March 2010.

'Burgeoning demand'

The Scottish government said work was continuing towards upgrading other exchanges with similar problems.

Mr Mather said: "I fully recognise the frustration felt in some rural communities where people are unable to obtain a satisfactory broadband service.

"With broadband an increasingly vital tool for businesses and households, we have acted with BT to identify a way forward."

BT Scotland Director Brendan Dick said there had been capacity problems in rural areas due to the "burgeoning demand for broadband".

However, he said that the latest initiative should allow more communities to benefit from a "critical component of any modern society".

The full list of sites receiving upgrades is:

Argyll and the Islands: Coll, Colonsay, Gigha, Jura, Pirnmill, Kilchattan Bay, Kilfinan, Machrie, Pennyghael, Sliddery, Whitehouse.

Ayrshire: Craigie, Straiton.

Caithness and Sutherland: The Craigs, Durness, Gillock, Lyth, Tongue, Berriedale, Kinbrace, Rosehall, Scourie, Westerdale.

Dumfries and Galloway: Bargrennan, Durisdeer, Marrburn.

Forth Valley: Inversnaid, Trossachs.

Inverness and East Highland: Advie, Glenferness, Laggan, Scatwell.

Lanarkshire: Elvanfoot.

Lochaber: Ardgour, Glenborrodale.

Lothian: Garvald.

Moray: Drummuir, Mulben.

Orkney: Birsay, Hoy, Papa Westray.

Renfrewshire: Loganswell.

Scottish Borders: Grantshouse, Longformacus, Abbey St Bathans, Borthwickbrae, Lempitlaw, Stobo.

Shetland: Burravoe, Fetlar, Gutcher, Fair Isle, Out Skerries.

Skye and Wester Ross: Achiltibuie, Duntulm, Kinlochewe, Staffin, Uig, Killilan, Loch Scavaig, North Erradale, Tarskavaig.

Tayside - Strathardle, Amulree, Bridge of Balgie, Bridge of Gaur, Butterstone, Trochry, Tummelbridge, Fern and Menmuir.

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