Aberdeen is to be the first city in Scotland to receive “full fibre” internet connections to nearly all its homes and businesses.
Broadband network specialist CityFibre is investing at least £40m in the project in partnership with Vodafone.
Work on building the network will begin this summer, with customers expected to receive gigabit speeds – 1,000 megabits per second or higher.
The companies said it would mean a “superior product at a lower cost”.
CityFibre and Vodafone said it was chosen “because of the city’s emergent tech sector, the council’s forward-looking commitment to ‘smart city’ initiatives, and the strength of its support for the project”.
‘Transform daily lives’
Greg Mesch, chief executive at CityFibre, said: “Our existing network in Aberdeen provides us with an 18-month head-start on a full fibre rollout to nearly every home and business in the city.”
Vodafone UK chief executive Nick Jeffery said the project “will help Aberdeen build on its credentials in innovation and as one of the best places to start a business”.
He added: “It will also transform consumers’ daily lives through superior internet access. We’re committed to helping businesses, entrepreneurs and residents embrace the new gigabit society in Aberdeen, the technological heart of Scotland.”
“Full fibre” broadband refers to the fact that fibre-optic cables run directly to properties, rather than relying on copper cables to connect the buildings to roadside cabinets.
This provides a more robust and faster connection, but is more expensive to deploy.
The Scottish government welcomed the Aberdeen project, which it said showed its “Reaching 100%” plan to make Scotland one of the best connected countries in Europe was working.
Fergus Ewing, cabinet secretary for the rural economy and connectivity, said: “It will help transform Aberdeen into one of the UK’s best connected cities and contribute to our goal of an economically and digitally future-proofed Scotland.
“I am delighted that the Scottish government’s recent £2m investment to increase broadband speeds for key public buildings across Aberdeen has helped pave the way for this deal.”
Openreach, which currently supplies broadband across the UK, said it welcomed the competition the CityFibre/Vodafone move would bring.
A spokesman said: “For many years we’ve been the largest investor in Aberdeen’s digital infrastructure, and as a result it’s now one of the best connected places in Britain.
“Nearly all of Aberdeen (96%) can order ‘superfast’ (above 30Mbps) broadband services today from a choice of retailers over our network, and just 0.7% of households can’t access a service of at least 10Mbps. Businesses can also order 1Gbps Ethernet connections across the city.
“We’ve invested more than £11bn into our network over the last decade and we’re continuing to upgrade urban areas like Aberdeen as well as more rural locations that are much harder to serve.”