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Digital Scotland Brings More FTTP Broadband to Rural Communities

Tuesday, July 2nd, 2019 (10:07 am) - Score 1,706
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The £442m (public and private investment) Digital Scotland (DSSB) project with BT (Openreach) is continuing to expand and in the final stages we’re seeing a lot more Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) based “ultrafast broadband” (100Mbps+) reaching rural parts, most recently around Lanarkshire and Aberdeenshire.

So far the DSSB project has extended the coverage of so-called “fibre broadband” (i.e. really a mix of mostly slower hybrid fibre FTTC and a little ultrafast full fibre FTTP) services to a total of 930,000 premises and as a result nearly 95% of Scotland now has access to a “superfast broadband” speed of 24Mbps+ (this is not an automatic upgrade, you have to order it from an ISP).

NOTE: DSSB has installed around 5,000 new fibre street cabinets and laid more than 12,000km of cable.

Last year we reported that strong take-up of the new service by consumers (50%+ in related areas) meant that the programme was expected to reach 60,300 more premises than originally planned. The reason for this is because public money returned by BT via clawback (gainshare) could be reinvested to further boost coverage (here), which meant that the existing contract(s) would continue to run until September 2019.

The latest official update states that Openreach’s DSSB rollout will now continue in every local authority area during 2019 and even into 2020 (no specific completion date is given). What’s more is that many of the extended deployments are making much more use of ultrafast FTTP instead of older and slower FTTC (VDSL2) services, which is in keeping with the UK Government’s wider “full fibre” centric strategy.

For example, in North Lanarkshire residents of Shotts, Cumbernauld, Greengairs and Kilsyth have recently been connected to FTTP and most of the deployments to Auchengray, Biggar, Carnwarth, Carstairs, Hamilton and Larkhall in South Lanarkshire have used the same technology. Over in Aberdeenshire it’s a similar story for parts of Ellon, Inverurie, Kemnay, New Deer, Portlethen and Whiterashes.

Robert Thorburn, Partnership Director for Openreach (Scotland), said:

“We’re working hard to bring better broadband to as many people as possible, going much further than expected after beating original targets. Across Scotland, an extra 60,000 premises will benefit.

Our engineers are now reaching increasingly remote communities as well as boosting coverage across North Lanarkshire. The arrival of full fibre broadband in places like Greengairs will be life changing for residents and businesses. The use of full fibre, where it’s the best solution, puts those households ahead of the curve for years to come.”

The on-going deployment is to be welcomed, although it’s worth pointing out that the Scottish Government’s follow-on £600m Reaching 100% (R100) programme (i.e. aspiring to ensure that nearly everybody can access 30Mbps+ speeds by the end of 2021) is running well behind schedule and won’t even select its supplier(s) until the end of this year (here), which raises a rather big question mark over that 2021 date.

On the upside a recent report from Analysys Mason forecast that the DSSB project could create a total benefit to the Scottish economy of £2.76bn over 15 years (here).

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Mark Jackson
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.
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15 Responses
  1. Avatar Brian

    Considering Greengairs is quite small, it looks like is not available for people I know living there. But good to see they’re priorising areas with FTTC coverage over sub USO level ADSL only areas. So will just have to continue waiting to see if the R100 farce will actually deliver the improvements that were promised years ago.

    • Avatar Connor

      Not sure why the R100 can be classed as a “farce” when the contract(s) haven’t even been awarded yet? If you’re referring to the delays then some of these are out of control of the Scottish Gov’t such as one of the bidders alleging illegal practices by the other bidder(s).

    • Avatar Brian

      Of course the main thing is the two delays, then there the matter of it won’t actually be 100% despite the pretense that it will be; then there is the complete lack of confidence after the lies and misinformation that’s come out of Superfast Scotland, an organisation clearly unfit for purpose.

    • Avatar Gary HILTON

      “But good to see they’re prioritising areas with FTTC coverage over sub USO level ADSL only areas. ”

      I’m not really sure what you mean by that?

    • Avatar Billy

      Nobody atm can get FTTP in Greengairs, you can get it in Wattston an in scope for Upperton, these are on the Greengairs exchange. So a lot of misleading details flying about.

  2. Avatar Stephen

    Openreach are really dangling the carrot in Netherley, Aberdeenshire. They are rolling out FTTP in the surrounding areas which is great. Whats not so great is that our road has now been delayed by another year, despite them installing new telegraph poles & ducting last spring & also running fibre past the bottom of the street to a new cabinet just a couple of miles away.
    Also, Openreach seem to have completely halted work for the summer. There used to be a lot of activity in the area almost every week, but in the last month there has been absolutely nothing. Well according to the data on the Scottish Roadworks Commissioner.Hopefully they will spring back into action shortly.

  3. Avatar Ogilvie Jackson

    Well, it’s great to here that hard to reach rural communities are at last being addressed. HOWEVER two of the most important areas in the Borders have been ignored .ie.the Ettrick and Yarrow valleys. These areas have been crying out for fibre for years and are desperately needing coverage to help regeneration.
    COME ON Openreach!!

  4. Avatar Gary HILTON

    ‘Hard to reach’ and ‘remote’ I’d love to see a definition of those terms In relation to their frequent usage relative to this specific industry topic.

    A less palatable but more honest term would be ‘not worth it’.

    If you look at the way a large number of the remaining properties in Moray and Aberdeenshire for example are spread out, they’re not ‘Hard to reach’ or even remote they simply wont generate enough return on investment.

  5. Avatar billy macgregor

    the majority of people in shotts northlanarkshire are not connected to FTTP those connected to FTTP are new builds which is approx 75 homes out of a population of 9,000. to suggest otherwise is misleading.

  6. Avatar craski

    Whilst I have seen lots of small pockets of FTTP appearing throughout Aberdeenshire it is still a tiny proportion. In the area covered by my exchange, only 16 out of approx. 2500 premises have FTTP.

    • Avatar nga for all

      Craski – will this 60k premises come off the 175k remaining premises within r100?

  7. Avatar Nga for all

    Good to see, so much more to come. Audit Scotland third report was disappointing claiming as it did by implication BT had paid all 11 years of operational costs! Mistake acknowledged but not corrected. More scrutiny will deliver more rural FTTP coverage.

  8. Avatar Billy

    Greengairs FTTP is only on cabinet 2 at the moment but is in scope for Uperton
    Details for cab 2 are

    ML6 7SY Meikle Crescent Greengairs, Airdrie, Lanarkshire 677m ADSL None Openreach fibre not available 70% area full fibre 300MB or better, 30% area less than 30MB Exchange 2 53% area

    ML6 7TD Hillrigg Greengairs, Airdrie, Lanarkshire 364m ADSL None Openreach fibre not available 13% area up to 30MB, 86% area less than 30MB Exchange 2 6% area

    ML6 7UF Roadside Place Greengairs, Airdrie, Lanarkshire 469m ADSL None Openreach fibre not available 100% area full fibre 300MB or better Exchange 2 100% area

    ML6 7UQ Meikle Crescent Greengairs, Airdrie, Lanarkshire 584m ADSL None Openreach fibre not available 100% area full fibre 300MB or better Exchange 2 100% area

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