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Digital Scotland to Cover 6,000 More Premises with FTTP Broadband

Sunday, August 18th, 2019 (4:45 pm) - Score 1,999

The £442m (public and private investment) Digital Scotland (DSSB) project, which has been working with BT (Openreach) to rollout “superfast broadband” to poorly served areas, is to extend Gigabit capable Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) UK ISP technology to cover a further 6,000 premises thanks to a reinvestment of £17.8m.

At present the project has already helped to extend the availability 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 931,000 premises. The result of this is that approaching 95% of Scotland now has access to a “superfast broadband” speed of 24Mbps+ (NOTE: this is not an automatic upgrade, you have to order it from an ISP).

The contract also includes a clawback (gainshare) clause, which essentially means that any take-up by local premises above 20% in the intervention area should result in BT returning some of the public investment (Scotland is now seeing well over 50%). The returned funding can then be reinvested into a further boost of network coverage and faster speeds, which appears to be where today’s £17.8m has come from.

In March 2017 over £15.6m was invested back into the programme thanks to a similar contract hand-back (here) and it’s possible that more could be released by BT in the future.

NOTE: Interestingly the press release reveals that DSSB’s contract runs for a 10 year period, while other Building Digital UK associated schemes tend to run for 7 years.

Michael Matheson, Cabinet Secretary for Connectivity, said:

“I am delighted that thanks to higher than expected uptake of services on infrastructure funded by the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband programme, even more premises will now receive fast, reliable broadband.

The programme has not only delivered on time and on budget, but has exceeded its original aim of connecting 95% of Scotland to fibre broadband. More and more communities will now have the opportunity to benefit from investment in reliable and speedy broadband services.”

Robert Thorburn, Openreach Partnership Manager for Scotland, said:

“This extra funding, which we’re returning early, will help us deploy to another 6,000 of Scotland’s hardest-to-reach households. Full fibre broadband provides more reliable, resilient and future-proof connectivity. We’ll use it to reduce not-spots and improve some existing speeds.

We’re very proud of our strong track record of delivering fast broadband to rural Scotland and look forward to connecting even more communities.”

Until today the original DSSB contract was expected to run until the end of September 2019, although this extension means that it will now continue to deploy until sometime in 2020 (no specific completion date is mentioned).

At this point it’s worth noting that the funding appears to reflect an absolutely colossal subsidy of roughly £2,967 per premises, which helps to highlight the significant economic challenge of trying to push full fibre infrastructure into some of the most difficult to reach rural areas.

The above also highlights one of the biggest obstacles for Scotland’s proposed £600m Reaching 100% (R100) project, which originally aspired to bring superfast broadband to every home in Scotland by the end of 2021 (March 2022 financial). Unfortunately the R100 scheme has been repeatedly delayed and is not now expected to award its contract until the end of this year (here), which casts that 2021 date into a lot of doubt.

Pictured below is Michael Matheson.


Leave a Comment
8 Responses
  1. Avatar Sebastian says:

    Is not a fibre splitter, looks to be a AGG node or a TJ node. Thanks.

  2. Avatar GNewton says:

    That’s nearly £3000.00 per premise, even for a rural area it appears to be a bit too expensive.

    1. Avatar GARY says:

      That’s what its going to cost, If OR continue to price civils and equipment they way they do now.
      My fttpod quote was in excess of 30k with 3 premises passed, of course the fibre deployment passes many more than that but as the current method just runs the fibre right past those other properties the price per house connected is insane.

      I’m not an industry guy, I don’t know the technicalities of whats available, but if true rural is going to be successful there needs to be a a way of running the fibre while branching off at a specific DP then continuing along the fibre route, running fibre out from an AG node to poles/points that service a couple of properties isn’t going to be viable.

    2. Avatar A_Builder says:

      That depends on if this is last 5% stuff.

      If it is last 5% then this is expected cost levels and it is good to see a continued roll on the most difficult as well as the most commercial.

      As I have pointed out before there is a long tail on this stuff with a very few properties costing £stupid but even in the last 10% there will be some hamlets that can be done for £1k per property.

      The question is where this sits on that curve.

      Anyway more FTTP is a good thing.

  3. Avatar Craski says:

    With Digital Scotland demonstrating in the past their inability to effectively communicate any forward plan to the public, nobody will ever actually know whether this funding will benefit them or not.

    1. Avatar Brian says:

      Even if you ask a direct question, and they give you a direct answer, it still could be the completely wrong information, particularly if it serves to try to shut you up for a few years.

  4. Avatar Nga for all says:

    IS this 6000 in addition to the 60,000 referenced in an article earlier this month?

  5. Avatar Stephen says:

    Well, who would have thought that rolling out fibre to the people with the slowest copper lines in the country, would result in a strong uptake!!!
    I believe the uptake in Aberdeenshire is around the 50% mark, I’m really hoping Openreach stock to their word this time and connect up our street by Jan 2020. Fingers crossed!

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