Highlands & Islands

New broadband technology tested at North Tolsta on Lewis

Engineer working on a fibre cabinet Image copyright Iain MacDonald/BT
Image caption An Openreach engineer working on the fibre cabinet at North Tolsta in the Western Isles

Telecoms giant BT is testing new technology in the Western Isles designed to increase the speed of fibre broadband over long distances.

About 20 households in North Tolsta on Lewis are the first in Scotland to use the Long reach VDSL technology.

The community was chosen due to its remoteness and because its fibre cabinet, a box of telecoms equipment, supports a cluster of long phone lines.

Significantly long phone lines can reduce broadband speeds, BT said.

The company's network business, Openreach, is running the trial.

Openreach chief executive Clive Selley said: "Getting faster speeds to rural communities is one of my biggest priorities, so testing new solutions in the field like this is a crucial part of that process.

"Our lab tests prove that Long Reach VDSL has the potential to significantly boost speeds over such lines, which are typically found in remote parts of the UK."

Image copyright Iain MacDonald/BT
Image caption North Tolsta on Lewis is the first area of Scotland to trial the new technology

Mr Selley added: "I'm pleased that North Tolsta is the first Long Reach VDSL test site in Scotland and the early results are very positive. This trial will provide engineers with more information on how the new technology works in one of the UK's remotest locations."

Openreach plans to hold further trials of the technology in a number of locations around the UK.

More than 85% of households in Scotland now have access to fibre broadband, but reaching the remaining rural areas will be a challenge, according to a report released on Thursday.

Audit Scotland said it expected this figure to rise to 95% by December 2017 if BT continued to meet its targets.

However, it said extending coverage to rural areas would require "more complicated and costly engineering solutions".

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