SSE Enterprise Telecoms, one of the UK’s leading connectivity providers, has been awarded a £10.5m full fibre project by Aberdeenshire Council, spanning up to 200km, with the aim of improving the delivery of public services to the community and boosting economic activity and quality of life in the area. This latest collaboration is a continuation of a 20-year-strong partnership between the two parties.
The project comes under the banner of the Aberdeen City Region Deal (ACRD). It is part of a funding allocation designed to improving the region’s digital infrastructure, key to the long-term future of the local economy. Funding from the Aberdeen City Region Deal provides the opportunity to create a sustainable digital infrastructure from which the region can transform into a world-class digital area. At the core is the need to deliver ultrafast connectivity and to use this to: deliver excellent public services; grow existing businesses; attract further investment; create new businesses; support mobility; protect the environment; and enhance the area’s attractiveness as a place to live and work.
The 18-month project is being delivered by SSE Enterprise Telecoms combining its existing extensive fibre network with Physical Infrastructure Access (PIA) to create a new Dark Fibre network, allowing for quicker delivery and realisation of economic and social benefits in the area.
The project will provide gigabit dark fibre out to public sector locations such as schools and NHS sites in a number of towns in a belt around Aberdeen City. Aberdeenshire Council, Aberdeen City Council and NHS Grampian will benefit directly as the users of the fibre to deliver services and improve efficiency. In addition, SSE Enterprise Telecoms will further invest in the infrastructure and offer capacity and services to mobile operators and internet service providers. This will increase service availability and speeds for residents and businesses in Aberdeenshire. It will also ensure that the region is fit for the 21st century, and will complement the existing gigabit fibre offer in the city.
The end-to-end full fibre network will initially connect 189 public sector sites across the region. Aberdeenshire residents will benefit from limited disruption with SSE Enterprise Telecoms using 43km of its existing dark fibre network to reduce the amount of construction during implementation. This will then be supplemented with 130km of new Dark Fibre network that will be created to maximise the number of premises served for the budget.
This optimum use of existing and new fibre pathways allows SSE Enterprise Telecoms to reach more locations than a conventional construction project reducing the total construction requirement by around 80%.
Public Sector Director at SSE Enterprise Telecoms, Martin Samuel said:
“Improving the region’s digital infrastructure is key to the long-term sustainable future of the local economy. This collaborative partnership is about maximising Aberdeenshire Council’s resources and providing the best value for money possible.
Our shareholder SSE plc’s employer ranking of first in Scottish Business Insider’s Top500 Index 2019 means we are committed to supporting Scotland’s economic growth for the long-term. In greenlighting this initiative, Aberdeenshire Council is investing for success, not just for now, but for the next 25 years. This access to full fibre connectivity will help to reduce inequalities and level the playing field for economic, environmental and social progress for Aberdeen and surrounding areas.
Until now, many local residents and businesses have relied solely on the incumbent to meet their connectivity needs. We’re delighted that this new, gigabit-capable network will offer another option in the region, benefitting the community for years to come.”
Jim Gifford is the chair of the Aberdeen City Region Deal Joint Committee, and leader of Aberdeenshire Council. He said: “The digital elements of our City Region Deal are among the most important, in terms of helping businesses and communities see a demonstrable change thanks to the Deal. The ACRD remains about being progressive, delivering tangible benefits and laying out a road map for the future to ensure the ongoing stability of our region. We can all agree that in the current circumstances that is almost more important than ever.
My thanks to the teams who have worked in partnership with SSE Enterprise Telecoms, the NHS and the other Deal partners to sign and agree this important milestone. I look forward to seeing the benefits being delivered for both the public sector and those companies or communities who access this network.”
UK Government Minister, Douglas Ross said: “The coronavirus pandemic has reinforced how critical digital infrastructure is to everyday life and businesses across the country, so I’m pleased the UK Government is able to support this rollout of full fibre connectivity to communities as part of its £125 million Aberdeen City Region Deal investment.
The UK Government has committed over £1.4 billion to city and growth deals across Scotland, promoting opportunities, creating jobs and attracting further investment.”
Michael Matheson, Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity said: “The Scottish Government is investing £125 million in the Aberdeen City Region Deal to deliver inclusive economic growth to the North East. Establishing new digital infrastructure is a key facet of this and I’m pleased to see this exciting project take another step forward.
The deal, which was signed in 2016 under different circumstances, will now be even more crucial to the recovery of the region’s economy following the Covid-19 pandemic, and complements our commitment to deliver superfast broadband access to every home and business in the country through the R100 programme.”*SSE Telecoms is now known as NEOS Networks