Villagers in Argyll and the Western Isles to put new broadband boosting technology through its paces

Households in the villages of Clachan and Whitehouse on the Kintyre peninsula and on the island of Eriskay in the Hebrides have been selected to take part in the first commercial pilot of a new technology to increase the speed of fibre broadband over very long phone lines.
Stuart Macdonald at work in North Tolsta
(Openreach engineer Stuart Macdonald at work at North Tolsta on Lewis, photographed by colleague Iain MacDonald).

Around 60 premises in the small rural communities will join a pilot scheme to test out the technology – known as Long Reach VDSL.

The pilot builds on the success of trials which began on the Isle of Lewis last summer. The three Scottish sites are among six new UK locations that have been picked to help us understand how the technology can improve broadband speeds for more homes and businesses across the country.

Being subject to the laws of physics, broadband speeds tend to slow down over long distances, so we’re constantly working to find a solution to that challenge. Long Reach VDSL operates at higher power levels and makes use of a wider range of frequencies to increase broadband speeds and the distance over which they can be delivered.

We’ve migrated all eligible lines in Clachan and Whitehouse and on Eriskay to the new technology and, if it proves successful, they will remain in operation at the higher speeds for the foreseeable future.

Early results have been positive with most households seeing a significant increase in their fibre broadband speeds.

Kim Mears, Openreach MD for infrastructure delivery, said: "Long Reach VDSL can potentially improve speeds for thousands of homes and businesses across Scotland and the rest of the UK – particularly those connected by long lines.

"Getting faster speeds to rural communities is one of our biggest priorities. We believe we can get fibre-based solutions to almost 99 per cent of homes by the end of 2020 including the use of Long Reach VDSL and our current plans would see most homes in the final five per cent of the UK receive speeds well in excess of 10Mbps.

"This technology is a great piece of British engineering, but it is not something Openreach can just implement alone so we’re delighted to be working with a number of our service provider customers on these pilots to make sure it works with their home routers and TV boxes.”
We're standing ready to support the UK government’s ambition that all premises can order a service that delivers a minimum of 10Mbps, regardless of where they are.

Clachan, Whitehouse and Eriskay were chosen due to their remote locations, and the fact that existing fibre cabinets which serve the communities support a cluster of long lines where download speeds are currently less than 10Mbps. We will apply the new engineering solution to any broadband lines in the trial locations that they believe will benefit.