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Digital Scotland Rollout Brings “Fibre Broadband” to 800,000 Extra Premises

Monday, October 23rd, 2017 (9:00 am) - Score 1,646

The £428m Digital Scotland (DSSB) project with BT (Openreach) has said they’re on-course to extend fixed line “fibre broadband” (FTTC/P) coverage to 95% of Scottish homes and businesses by the end of 2017. So far they’ve reached a total of 800,000 additional premises since the scheme began.

Back in June 2017 the programme announced that 90% of premises in Scotland had the ability to order a “superfast broadband” (30Mbps+) connection if they wanted (here) and related coverage is now reaching towards 92%, although we have our doubts about whether 95% can be achieved by the end of 2017 as per the SNP manifesto (note: the Digital Scotland website actually pegs completion for March 2018).

On top of that we should point out that figures like 95% are a national average and that means some areas will get more coverage, while others will see less. For example, this figure drops to just 86% for the rural Highland and Islands region by the end of 2017 (here). More than 860 new fibre street cabinets are now live in the Highlands region.

Fergus Ewing, Rural Economy Secretary, said:

“Fast internet connection is vital to the economic and social wellbeing of our rural communities, supporting businesses and improving lives of local people.

Last year we made faster progress than any other part of the UK and we are on-track to meet our Programme for Government commitment of 95% coverage by the end of this year.

However, these upgrades are not automatic. I would encourage more people to check whether they are eligible on the DSSB website and contact a service provider of their choice to start receiving faster broadband.

I am not complacent – I am aware that those who do not have access are at a disadvantage and our job is not done until everyone is connected. We are now focussing on the next steps to achieve 100% coverage by 2021.”

Matt Hancock MP, UK Minister for Digital, said:

“I’m delighted that more than 800,000 Scottish homes and businesses have now had their internet speeds boosted as part of our UK wide rollout of superfast broadband. By the end of this year 95 per cent of UK properties will have access to superfast speeds, but more needs to be done to make sure no-one is left behind.

We know just how important broadband is in the digital age, and we’ll continue to support Digital Scotland delivering on the ground so that by 2020 everyone in Scotland, and the rest of the UK, will have access to a fast, reliable and affordable internet connection.”

As hinted above, the work doesn’t stop once the current contract with BT comes to an end. The SNP ruled Scottish Government, which is headed by Nicola Sturgeon (First Minister), has already published their 2017 Digital Strategy for Scotland. This document reiterated last year’s R100 proposal by committing them to “extend superfast broadband access to all by 2021, while encouraging the growth of ultrafast services,” although so far there have been no solid details (a further 280,000+ premises could benefit from R100).

The Scottish Government are also concerned about the UK central government’s proposed 10Mbps Universal Service Obligation (USO) and its potential impact on competition and alternative network providers if BT were to secure a deal, which makes it more difficult for them to establish what their own R100 plan will become (here). Nobody wants to duplicate the investment or spend public money when it’s not needed.

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
Leave a Comment
6 Responses
  1. NGA for all says:

    Good progress, I hope the ambition is permitted and any discussion of a Voluntary offer by BT by 2020 does not come at the expense of this ambition. Thus the Voluntary offer needs to be rejected or delayed until works are completed using the resources available.

  2. MikeW says:

    Surely the issue of devolution can’t be hard. Either the Scottish government have power over broadband or not. Either R100 is legal, or the USO is legal.

    Surely neither government embarked on their programmes without knowing where it covered?

    1. NGA for all says:

      The USO of 10Mbps was announced by David Cameron in Novemeber 2015, at a time when most including the then Minister were unwilling to admit to the depth of the BT Gambit, which is now reflected in the Capital Deferral of £466m plus the rest.
      Gaming of costs and capital and the use of commercial confidentiality creates a unique form of mediocrity.
      There is nothing to suggest BT’s offer has considered the needs of Northern Ireland or Scotland or the at least 9 counties counted so far planning 100% coverage.
      R100 is a programme target. B-USO is a proposed secondary piece of legislation which DCMS will pass to Ofcom for enforcement.

    2. Gadget says:

      Conversely there is absolutely nothing to suggest that BT has not considered Northern Ireland and Scotland (and for that matter Wales) when evaluating and proposing their offer, unless you have seen otherwise.

    3. NGA for all says:

      Gadget There is no evidence of any local consultation of any sort, either with OR locally or officials. There is nothing in the Ofcom assessment that references the uniqueness of the Northern Ireland infrastructure, or in BT’s briefing to SPs. The BT Group offer is made without referencing the monies already owed.

      The lack of any granularity referencing local challenges supports the assertion. In fact Ofcom made clear they had not taken local plans into consideration.

      I am pro appointing BT as a B-USO provider but not this vague voluntary nonsense.

  3. Declan says:

    Waiting 4 years now for fibre. Exchange updated like 2 to 3 years ago. Which part of Scotland ? Central Edinburgh. Sigh….

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