East Lothian Council’s Economic Development team has been working with smaller communities in East Lothian to improve access to ultrafast broadband, with the first Openreach project in the area using funding from the Scottish Government’s R100 Scottish Broadband Voucher Scheme about to launch in Whittingehame.

Openreach is working with the council, Scottish Government and the local community to deliver Full Fibre broadband to around 70 households in one of East Lothian’s smallest villages.

The council team will continue to work with communities and partners to improve mobile phone coverage and broadband speeds in parts of East Lothian where services are not up to scratch.

Councillor John McMillan, East Lothian Council’s Cabinet Spokesperson for Environment, Economic Development and Tourism, said: “Access to good mobile coverage and broadband is so important for our local economy. Not only does it allow businesses to locate in any area of East Lothian if they have access to the communication services they need but it’s hugely important for communities too, with many of us now working from home.

“The Whittingehame project began after the local community council got in touch to discuss issues in their area. I would urge any other community councils or community groups who have experienced problems with coverage in their area to get in touch with our Economic Development team to see what can be done to drive improvements.”

Residents and businesses in Whittingehame are currently only achieving around 3Mbps download speeds. After the upgrade, funded by the Scottish Government’s Reaching 100% (R100) Scottish Broadband Voucher Scheme, they will have access to ultrafast broadband from a range of providers over the Openreach network. Residents won’t receive these faster speeds automatically, and will need to place an order for service with their chosen provider for at least 12 months.

Robert Thorburn, Openreach’s Partnership Director in Scotland, said: “We’re passionate about working with communities, councils like East Lothian and the Scottish Government to deliver Full Fibre broadband to homes and businesses in Scotland’s most rural villages. The upgrade will deliver ultra-reliable, ultrafast and future-proof broadband links to residents in Whittingehame. We’re eager to help other rural communities upgrade to Full Fibre as well – and people can visit the Openreach website to find out how we can help.”

Scottish Government Innovation Minister, Richard Lochhead, added: “I welcome the collaboration demonstrated between residents and East Lothian Council, which has secured the extension of faster broadband to Whittinghame. The importance of an effective digital connection has been highlighted during recent years. It enhances the way we work, communicate with friends and family and access vital public services.

“The Scottish Government is committed to providing an efficient and resilient digital infrastructure in Scotland, as part of our efforts to build a fair, green and growing economy.”

The council’s Economic Development team is keen to engage with community groups and businesses who have experienced issues with mobile phone coverage or broadband in their area. Anyone interested in receiving support for their area should contact economicdevelopment@eastlothian.gov.uk


Published: Wednesday, 6th September 2023