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A tech-savvy, award winning village store is set to see a boost in the speed at which it can deliver its online services, as it becomes one of the first places to order superfast fibre broadband in the Cairngorm National Park area.

Kincraig is the first local village to benefit from the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband project which is bringing fibre based services offering download speeds of up 80 Mbps* to towns and villages across the region.

Access to the new services is also coming through in Aviemore now, and more coverage will follow in the coming months in Boat of Garten, Carrbridge, Dulnain Bridge, Grantown, Kingussie, Nethybridge, Newtonmore and Tomintoul.

Project partners Highlands and Islands Enterprise and BT, were joined by Cairngorms National Park Authority’s (CNPA) representatives at Kincraig Stores to mark its arrival in the village.

At the heart of the community since the 19th Century, family run Kincraig Stores has stayed bang up to date and this year scooped the Scottish Local Retailer ‘Best Use of Technology’ award. Its website is a community hub offering online ordering, free delivery and it shares community info through its social media channels.

24-year-old Calum Duncan, who works at Kincraig Stores with his parents Gordon and Eileen, said: “We’ve ordered the new services and the faster speeds, particularly for uploading, will make things easier for the variety of work we do digitally. As well as ordering online with our suppliers, we have spent a lot of time developing our website and social media to provide added value for the local community. We get a lot of interaction particularly through Facebook. Faster connections are such an important part of life for businesses and the community – it’s great news that it’s here in Kincraig.”

Fibre services will roll out in stages as BT Openreach engineers build the local network. In most areas it’s delivered through new green fibre cabinets. The ability to get a service and the speed received are both dependent on whether a home or business is attached to the local network, and the distance from the fibre cabinet.

Where it is available customers do have to order. For those who want to check availability, anyone can put their number or postcode into the Digital Scotland online checker www.hie.co.uk/whereandwhen Customers should speak to an internet service provider to get connected.

HIE’s Director of Digital, Stuart Robertson, commented: “It’s great to see the first services now available to order in Kincraig and in the first parts of Aviemore. We’re seeing good progress in Kingussie and we will start to see services becoming available there within weeks. We are also ahead of schedule in Newtonmore.

“The National Park is a remarkable but challenging geographical area and locals will not be surprised to hear we can hit complications when building a network of this scale. It is taking us a little longer to reach Tomintoul and Grantown than we had hoped, but we continue to work through the planning and building process. We will bring these areas through as soon as possible.”

The arrival of fibre was also welcomed by the CNPA. Willie McKenna a directly elected Board member said: “We are highly delighted that superfast broadband is now available within areas of Badenoch and Strathspey. The roll-out of fibre broadband is a vital area of work and it is exciting to see the cabinets now being installed across the area. The availability of superfast broadband will help enhance the National Park’s status as an attractive place in which to live and do business.”

Work on the ground is being carried out by Openreach, the local network division of private sector partner BT. Funding is coming from the Scottish Government and the UK Government as well as HIE and BT.

Robert Thorburn, BT’s programme manager, commented: “It’s fantastic to see local business people like Calum explore how they add value to their business through the power of the internet. The introduction of fibre will open up even more opportunities to develop this and I look forward to seeing how homes and businesses in the area benefit from its introduction.”

*When connected premises could have direct access to download speeds of up to 80 Mbps. These are the top wholesale speeds available from Openreach to all service providers; speeds offered by service providers may vary. Speeds will also vary depending on the distance from the cabinet.

Due to the current network topography, and the economics of deployment, it is likely that some premises within selected exchange areas will not initially be able to access fibre-based broadband. Openreach is considering alternative solutions for these locations, and Community Broadband Scotland can support communities look at alternative options in the areas least likely to be reached by the roll-out.

Source: Highlands and Islands Enterprise

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