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Up Your Street – Scotland Tries to Boost Fibre Broadband Take-up

Monday, May 14th, 2018 (9:46 am) - Score 1,248
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The Scottish Government‘s Connectivity Secretary, Fergus Ewing, has this week launched a new “Up Your Street” campaign that aims to promote more take-up of the country’s hybrid fibre (FTTC / Cable) dominated fixed line broadband services, which can reach nearly 97% of homes and businesses across Scotland.

So far the £428m Digital Scotland (DSSB) project with BT (Openreach), which has been busy rolling out a mix of their ‘up to’ 80Mbps capable Fibre-to-the-Cabinet (FTTC / VDSL2) and a small bit of Gigabit capable Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) technology (not to mention separate commercial deployments via Virgin Media’s cable network etc.), has already helped to reach nearly 97% of the country (here). Sadly this drops to around 93% when filtering by those able to access “superfast broadband” speeds of 30Mbps+.

The state aid supported project is currently split into two geographic halves, including the ‘Highlands and Islands‘ region and the ‘Rest of Scotland‘. At present the level of take-up in areas that have directly benefited from this is a reasonable 37% for the ‘Rest of Scotland’ and 42.1% in the much more rural ‘Highlands and Islands’ region.

Related contracts include a clawback (gainshare) clause, which requires BT to return part of the public investment as customer adoption of the new service rises. The funding can then be reinvested to further improve coverage via future contracts. Efficiency savings from earlier phases can also be reinvested. In other words, boosting take-up can help pay for even more coverage.

Fergus Ewing said (Scotsman):

“This hard work and deployment won’t stop. Thanks to additional investment and new funding generated by stronger-than-expected take-up, the programme will continue to provide more access during 2018 and into 2019, complementing ongoing commercial build across Scotland.

As one of the largest infrastructure projects in Europe, the DSSB programme has delivered on time and on budget. Using innovative new technology, including fibre to the premises (FTTP) technology, without DSSB, only 66 per cent of premises would have fibre broadband access. In fact, over 93 per cent of homes and businesses can now benefit from superfast broadband of speeds of 30Mbps and above.

This week I’m helping to highlight these benefits by kicking off the ‘Up your Street’ campaign. As it weaves around the country, the campaign will highlight that faster and more reliable broadband is available across Scotland. To take advantage and reap the benefits, people need to sign up with a service provider. There are frequently good affordable deals available from a variety of different providers.”

The campaign will no doubt also help to highlight the current Scottish Government’s efforts but, given the issue of gainshare, it’s important not to overlook the positive impact that such work could have. Lack of general awareness (locals don’t always know that the faster service exists) has shown itself to be a big obstacle and sometimes just telling people that it’s available can be a real help.

On the other hand awareness isn’t the only obstacle to take-up. Other challenges can stem from the fear of switching to a different ISP or changing service, as well as higher prices for related connections or customers being locked into long contracts with an existing ISP (can’t upgrade immediately). Likewise not everybody will feel the need or desire to upgrade from older and slower ADSL lines etc.

Meanwhile the Scottish Government are still developing their £600m R100 programme, which aspires to make 30Mbps+ capable superfast broadband networks available to “every single premise in Scotland” by the end of 2021 (here and here) or March 2022 as a financial year. Several suppliers including BT, Gigaclear, Axione and SSE Enterprise Telecoms are known to be bidding.

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Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he is also the founder of ISPreview since 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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3 Responses
  1. Doctor Colossus

    That’s cute. Our cabinet is 2 miles away, so while “Fibre broadband is available in your area”, we are too far away. At the same time, checking a property right next to the same cabinet reveals that “Your cabinet is connected to the fibre network but high demand means we are having to add more capacity before you can order.”

    This campaign might be putting the cart before the horse in some places…

    • GNewton

      Also, it’s a bit misleading. It’s VDSL, not fibre broadband! The latter wouldn’t suffer from the line length issue.

    • Rahul

      That’s exactly the reason why FTTC is not a complete solution for most properties faraway from the cabinet. 2 miles equals 3218 meters, you will probably get worse speeds with that than ADSL copper.

      I’ve done my research as well, I’m 800 meters away from my Bishopsgate exchange, no FTTC. Even if theoretically it was supported then the max speeds will be 28Mbps! FTTC handicaps the residents properties who are faraway from the cabinet. It may be suitable for small areas where there aren’t that many properties connected to a particular cabinet and at the same time distance not being a factor as all these properties will fortunately be located near that cabinet.

      Only where properties are ALL and I mean ALL close to the cabinet will benefit from FTTC in that given area. The rest will suffer from FTTC unavailability unless either another cabinet gets installed or the area gets upgraded to FTTP for those without it.

      Like in my case for example my area in Central London’s Bishopsgate exchange is on BT Openreach plan to get upgraded to FTTP (I of-course will believe it when I see it). But when an area is very big it cannot accommodate enough support for FTTC to work properly for all.

      That’s why as we can see the woman standing next to the green cabinet in this picture doesn’t look excited at all judging by her body language! There’s no spark of excitement being expressed in her face because she knows what is being installed is not true fibre broadband but a hybrid between fibre and copper and she’s probably concerned if the speeds she will get will be up to the mark!

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