First steps to bring Fife up to speed

The East Neuk, looking towards Anstruther (picture by Neil Hanna)
The East Neuk, looking towards Anstruther (picture by Neil Hanna)

A COMMITMENT to providing Fifers with a better level of broadband coverage has taken a step forward.

At a meeting of Fife Council’s executive committee at Fife House on Tuesday, members were given a report on a proposed roll-out of Next Generation Broadband (NGB) and were asked to support an expression of interest in it to the Scottish Government.

This would involve the council committing up to £2.8m over two years to secure NGB capability to 85 per cent coverage.

A NGB manager will be put in post for the two years to develop a Fife broadband plan.

Councillors were asked to comment on the proposal before a business case was started.

Councillor Peter Grant said: “We are still playing catch up here in Fife.

“We were in a position during the last administration where the deputy leader of the council, Councillor Elizabeth Riches, still wasn’t able to get broadband in areas like Anstruther and Pittenweem.

“If we don’t have this it can become a big disadvantage in Fife.”

NGB is expected to deliver a range of benefits to various groups with tele-health and tele-care services possible as well as an opportunity for businesses to improve productivity and open up new markets and services.

Cllr Brian Goodall told the meeting that when new housing developments were being opened, broadband capabilities were increasingly becoming a main concern for those moving in.

He added: “I hope that we would be in a position to help with this as it’s now a major part of our infrastructure.”

Chair of the meeting, and leader of the council, Cllr Alex Rowley said the consensus around the table showed that expressing an interest in ensuring Fife’s broadband capabilities were improved was the “right way to go”.

BT also announced that faster broadband is now available to more homes and businesses, including more than 5200 in Fife.

Eighteen Scottish communities, including 2000 homes in Buckhaven, are benefiting from upgrades as part of the roll-out of BT’s next generation broadband service delivered over copper lines.

The BT investment will make available download speeds of up to 20 megabits per second (Mbps).