Rural towns in the south-west Scottish area of South Ayrshire will get fibre-based next-generation broadband access within months, through H2O Networks.
H2O Networks, which is part of the i3 Group, is the company behind the fibre rollout in Bournemouth. The firm uses ready-made ducts such as sewer systems rather than digging up roads. H2O announced its plans for South Ayrshire on Tuesday.
The South Ayrshire rollout will start with a 'Fibrezone' being built in the town of Ayr. H2O said there is a possibility of extending this Fibrezone to other towns in the area, including Troon and Prestwick. Twenty Fibrezones will be built across the UK within the next year, H2O said, with the South Ayrshire deployment becoming operational in the first quarter of 2010.
Whereas copper-access broadband generally provides speeds of up to 8Mbps or, in some cities, 24Mbps, fibre access can provide speeds of up to 100Mbps.
"The benefit of a fibre-optic network for the council has never been in question," South Ayrshire Council ICT strategy officer Gordon Muir said in a statement. "However, the cost associated with them has meant that, until now, the project has been put on hold."
"Connecting to the Fibrezone should enable us to plan future spending more accurately by bringing the cost of the installation within budget and offering fixed costs, no matter what extra capacity is required, over the next 10 years."
H2O's Fibrezone and Fibrecity — the name given to deployments in larger towns such as Bournemouth — initiatives are separate from the large-scale, primarily urban-focused fibre rollout that BT says will hook up 10 million homes by 2012.
Rural areas in the UK are often unable to get broadband at a reasonable speed, largely because private companies say the cost of rolling out infrastructure in far-flung areas of low population density is too great to for the returns they can expect.
The government'sDigital Britain report, issued in July, called for a minimum downlink speed of 2Mbps to be in place across the country by 2012. The report also kicked off plans for a monthly 50p levy on each copper phone line in the country, to fund the fibre rollout to areas of the UK in which private companies would ordinarily not invest.