Fife towns in new broadband trial

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Two rural towns in Fife have been chosen to be part of a broadband pilot project.

Lundin Links and Lower Largo will test a range of new tools and techniques as engineers install the latest fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP or ‘full fibre’) broadband.

They will have access to download speeds of up to 1 gigabit per second (1Gbps) – about 18[1] times faster than the current UK average.

The project, by Openreach, should allow residents and businesses order their new FTTP broadband services in time for Christmas, with work continuing during 2020.

Mre than 50,000 homes and businesses in 12 locations are included re included, and it is hoped the pilot will pave the way for a much bigger upgrade of rural homes and businesses in smaller, less accessible and remote locations.

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Brendan Dick, who chairs the Openreach board in Scotland, said: “This is a really important trial for Openreach and it’s great that Fife is set to play a leading role.

“We understand the importance of bringing great connectivity to rural communities, and as well as providing fantastic broadband for people living in Lundin Links and Lower Largo, we hope this provides us with the platform to extend our reach to hundreds of thousands more rural premises in the coming years.

“We have already done a lot in Fife, through our commercial investments and in the Digital Scotland partnership with the public sector.

“We’ll also join forces with communities who’ve asked to work directly with us – but we know there is more to do and we can’t waited to get started.”

The trial is part of Openreach’s ambition to extend its FTTP network into areas that were considered more difficult or expensive for the private sector to upgrade commercially - and could potentially become eligible for being included in its ‘Fibre First’ investment programme in the years ahead if the right investment conditions are met.

Engineers are testing a number of innovative tools that enable work to be done faster and at less cost – including a specialised trench digging tool called a diamond cutter.

It’s a giant rotating circular blade with diamonds embedded in the metal coating on its edge – enabling it to slice through pavements and roads leaving a neat channel into which the machine simultaneously feeds in tubing for fibre-optic cables.

The specialist kit is capable of installing 700 metres of cabling a day – more than 20 times that by a standard two-person civils team using traditional methods of drilling and excavation, slashing the time taken to deploy fibre by months.