The first street cabinet bringing fibre broadband services to a rural Scottish community has gone live, Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced.
Homes and businesses in the historic north-east fishing village of Buckie in Moray are now able to sign up for super-fast broadband.
The deployment marks the start of a £410 million fibre rollout that will deliver services to more than a million people across Scotland over the next four years.
Around 400 premises in Buckie can now order next-generation broadband - a figure that will increase to more than 5,300 as BT engineers complete the local network upgrade.
Additional locations across the Scottish countryside will follow, as the rural broadband rollout gathers momentum nationwide.
Ms Sturgeon said the launch of the first rural fibre-enabled cabinet marks "an important milestone" for the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband partnership, and also for the people of Buckie, who are the first to benefit from the initiative.
"It is fantastic news that local households and businesses will now see the benefits of high quality digital connectivity," she stated.
The Deputy First Minister claimed that the scale of the challenge of delivering fibre broadband into rural Scotland "outstrips any other part of the UK".
She described it as being "one of the most ambitious broadband infrastructure projects ever to have been undertaken", with 95 per cent of Scottish premises set to be covered by 2017-18.
"This is an important step towards ensuring that Scotland has world-class digital connectivity by 2020," Ms Sturgeon noted.
"Our investment, and that of our partners in the project, will extend access to super-fast broadband across Scotland. This will be a key factor in ensuring Scotland’s long-term economic prosperity."
Brendan Dick, Director of BT Scotland, added that the importance of a "rather insignificant-looking roadside cabinet" in Buckie "cannot be understated".
"It’s the milestone that marks the first time access to fast fibre broadband has been provided to anyone in Scotland as part of this exciting programme," he stated.
Mr Dick claimed that taking fibre broadband to the Highlands and Islands is "the most challenging engineering project BT is tackling in the UK".
"It’s a massive operation which includes the complexities of laying 20 subsea fibre cables in a six-month weather window kicking off in May," he noted.
With this in mind, Mr Dick said it is great to see BT's "extensive planning and logistics" starting to pay off with the launch of the first fibre cabinet.