Neos Networks, one of the UK’s leading connectivity providers, has announced the completion of segment three of the project to bring a full-fibre network to Aberdeenshire.
The partnership between Neos Networks, Aberdeenshire Council, Aberdeen City Council and NHS Grampian, under the Aberdeen City Region Deal, to bring full-fibre connectivity to the region was announced in May 2020, to boost economic activity, quality of life and improve the delivery of public services.
A year on, Neos Networks is proud to announce that substantial progress has been made on the project, helping to better enable and connect a traditionally hard to reach region to telecoms infrastructure. The latest segment of the project saw an additional 29 public sector sites connected. This takes the total number of public sector sites upgraded by the project to 93.
To bring this total of 93 sites online, 153km of new underground fibre cable has been laid so far, heading towards the target of 275km. The public sector locations benefitting from the most recent deployment have spanned hospitals, schools, libraries and leisure sites, including:
• Mackie Academy
• Portlethen Academy
• Newtonhill Library
• Kincardine Community Hospital
• Stonehaven Medical Centre
• Stonehaven Open Air Swimming Pool
As the Covid-19 vaccination programme got underway during segment three, it was important that the project did not disrupt the UK’s vaccination effort. As a result, the team reprioritised the schedule and accelerated delivery plans on a corporate building intended for use as vaccination centre. By prioritising the laying of fibre in this location, Neos Networks completed it early and ensured that it could be used as operational vaccination centre without disruption – an impressive feat, given the pandemic restrictions and the severe weather conditions in Aberdeenshire over the period.
Reaching this midway point is a significant milestone for the local area connectivity project, supporting the creation of new businesses, jobs and growing existing ones; increasing productivity; attracting further investment; and facilitating remote working.
Through this project, Neos Networks has also been adding social value to the Aberdeenshire community in multiple ways – including supporting five apprenticeships on the project and five structured work placements, each lasting five days a week over eight weeks. Further community outreach includes five facilitated professional courses for the programme team to upskill the workforce, and 100 hours of staff time working with community organisations, including helping digitally isolated individuals gain access to devices.
Neos Networks is proud to have received a Net Promoter Score of +80 from the customer on the delivery of the project thus far. Segment four is now underway, and due for completion by September 2021. Furthermore, the whole project to underpin the digital ambitions of Scotland and connect 190 public sites is on track to be fully completed in March 2022, bringing best-in-class customer service as well as next-generation connectivity to the region.
Lorna Ormiston, Programme Director for Neos Networks, said: “We’re excited and pleased with the significant and timely progress we are making on the Aberdeenshire full fibre network project, helping to underpin Scotland’s digital ambitions and boost economic activity in the area. I’m very proud of the Aberdeenshire team to have made such substantial progress this year, despite challenging circumstances, including flooding in February after heavy rain and snow. We are well on track to complete the rest of the project on time and on budget despite all work having been completed during the pandemic.”
Andy Bell, Head of Public Sector at Neos Networks, said: “The experience working alongside Aberdeenshire has been particularly exciting for Neos Networks, and we’re pleased to see the progress being made so far. As we continue to develop our network, we’ll be looking to replicate our knowledge and learnings from this project across the wider UK market.”
Cllr Andy Kille, Leader of Aberdeenshire Council and chair of the Aberdeen City Region Deal Joint Committee (ACRD), said: “The continued roll out of fibre across Aberdeenshire is tremendously welcome, both from the perspective of the City Region Deal ambitions but also as a tangible benefit for Aberdeenshire. Connectivity and access to online services is in line with the ambitions in the Council Digital Strategy and is a fundamental part of the aims of the ACRD. It is reassuring to see that the project is on track for completion next year, despite recent challenges.”
Cllr Jenny Laing, Leader of Aberdeen City Council, said: “I am delighted that things are progressing so well with the full fibre project. Not only are our corporate sites now able to connect to gigabit speed connectivity but the additional community benefits provided by Neos Networks have been exceptional. Improving connectivity in our city is essential to making our region more attractive, helping people to work from home as well as keep families and friends well connected. The full fibre project is key in helping to drive regional economic growth."
Iain Stewart, UK Government Minister for Scotland, said: “The past year has shown how essential fast and secure internet connections are for our public services. From hospitals to schools, 93 public buildings in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire are now benefitting from full fibre connectivity thanks to the City Region Deal. The UK Government is investing more than £1.5 billion into City Region and Growth Deals across Scotland, helping communities to build back better from the pandemic."
Kate Forbes, Scottish Government Cabinet Secretary for Finance and the Economy, said: “I’m very pleased to see the progress that’s been made in the roll-out of the Full Fibre Infrastructure Project, improving the connectivity that is required by so many vital local public services, including a temporary vaccination centre, playing a key community role in our nationwide response to the pandemic.
The Scottish Government is contributing £125 million over ten years to the Aberdeen City Region Deal, supporting the region’s economic recovery by creating jobs and providing the commercial infrastructure to support and attract businesses to Aberdeen and the surrounding areas. We are also investing an additional £254 million over the same time period to facilitate a more significant boost to the economy of the North East and contributing significantly to this project.”