MORE than 31,000 homes and business across the Borders can now access high-speed fibre broadband.

And the end to delayed downloads is also coming to many more, it is claimed.

The Digital Scotland team was in the region this week to highlight the progress already made in connecting up the country.

It is claimed that more than 850,000 homes and businesses across Scotland are now able to connect to fibre broadband through the £428 million Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband programme.

Councillor Mark Rowley, the local authority's executive member for Business and Economic Development, welcomed the Digital Scotland team at Tweedbank Railway Station.

He highlighted the improvements already witnessed down the railway corridor and pledged that other parts of the region would also benefit.

He told us: “The availability of superfast broadband along the Borders Railway corridor is vital to businesses who may be looking to establish themselves here, or people wanting to move and utilise the railway for business and pleasure.

“The council has contributed an additional £8.4 million to extend the reach of the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband programme which is increasingly delivering vital broadband infrastructure to more communities across the Scottish Borders.

“We do however recognise that not all Borders residents will benefit from this programme, or still face slow speeds, and we continue to work hard with a range of partners, pushing them hard to improve digital connectivity for residents and businesses across the region.”

Fibre broadband can offer fast and reliable connections at speeds of up to 80Mbps.

Many communities along the Borders Railway as well as the wider region have been hooked up.

And more local coverage is to follow as engineers from Openreach – Scotland’s digital network business - continue work on the ground.

Sara Budge, programme director for Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband, said: “It is fantastic to see fibre broadband benefitting local residents and businesses along the length of the Borders Railway route.

“I would like to thank councillor Mark Rowley and senior pupils from Tweedbank Primary School for joining us to celebrate that fact that, together with Borders Railway, we are making Scotland more connected.”

Slow and, in some cases, non-existent connections have blighted many rural parts of the Borders including Upper Tweeddale, the Ettrick and Yarrow valleys, around West Linton and also areas around Lilliesleaf.

Latest figures show that only 82 per cent of properties in the Borders have access - despite government targets of 95 per cent.

Local MP John Lamont said: "While the UK as a whole has managed to make progress, in Scotland we are still lagging too far behind and we also know that many properties which are meant to be connected, still can’t get superfast broadband.

“The Borders is particularly struggling, with nearly one in five properties still without a decent service.

"This is simply not good enough and the SNP’s failure to deliver is holding Scottish businesses back and is unfair for consumers.”

But promises are being made and target deadlines of 95 per cent fast-speed coverage are approaching.

Digital Scotland funding partners include the Scottish Government, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, BT Group, the UK Government through Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK), local authorities and the European Regional Development Fund.

BT Group is investing £126 million in the rollout, and the total project value includes around £18 million which is being reinvested during 2018 as a result of stronger than expected early take-up.

Robert Thorburn, Openreach fibre partnership director for Scotland, added: “Thousands of people and businesses across the Scottish Borders now have the opportunity to access their best-ever broadband speeds when they sign up with a service provider.

“Industry regulator Ofcom has highlighted that many consumers could be accessing significantly faster speeds by upgrading, and I‘d urge local people to check if they’re able to order the high-speed services that are now widely available across Scotland “With work continuing into 2018, we’re right on track to deliver.”

To check if you are able to access the latest fibre broadband technology check the Digital Scotland website -