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Scotland’s R100 Broadband Voucher Scheme Set for Summer

Saturday, June 13th, 2020 (4:53 am) - Score 2,988
scotland r100 broadband lots map uk

The Scottish Government‘s Minister for Connectivity, Paul Wheelhouse, has confirmed that their new voucher scheme for poorly served areas (i.e. those that cannot access “superfast broadband” 30Mbps+) is set to go live this summer. The scheme will be accompanied by a new online “premises level” eligibility checker.

At present Scotland is busy entering the deployment phase for their £600m R100 (Reaching 100%) programme, which has so far awarded two of its three contracts – Central (LOT 2) and Southern (LOT 3) – to BT (Openreach). Meanwhile an unspecified legal challenge by UK ISP Gigaclear against the proposed award of LOT 1 (North Scotland / Highlands) to BT (here) continues to delay the agreement.

NOTE: R100 focuses on the final 5-6% of premises without superfast connectivity or any future upgrade plans, which reflects around 150,000 premises. The LOT 2 contract with BT will upgrade at least 47,000 of these, while LOT 3 will do around 26,000. Nearly all with gigabit-capable FTTP.

Under the current plan engineers will reach around half of the target premises in both lots – approximately 23,000 in Central and 12,000 in the South – by the end of 2021, with the majority of the build completed by the end of 2023 (a couple of years later than originally planned).

On top of that the R100 programme has also been busy developing a new voucher scheme, although until now we only knew that this would launch “later” in 2020.

Paul Wheelhouse said:
(responding to a question from Edward Mountain MSP)

“As Mr Mountain knows, broadband provision, like all telecoms issues, is a reserved matter. The Scottish Government is intervening to address market failure, and the R100 programme will deliver, although we have clearly been delayed by the current legal proceedings, which we cannot fast track-we will have to wait for their outcome.

I assure Mr Mountain and everyone whom he represents in the Highlands and Islands that they will be eligible for the voucher funding that will be available from this summer onwards. Through the online checker that we are developing to provide information at a premises level, his constituents should be able to tell whether they are eligible for R100 and when it will deliver to their premises. If that is likely to be beyond the end of 2021, they will be able to use the voucher funding to deliver a solution.”

At this stage we still don’t know much about the voucher scheme itself, except for a few bits. Anyone (homes and businesses) who will not be able to access superfast broadband through the R100 programme by the end of 2021 – even if R100 will ultimately reach them – will be eligible for the voucher once it goes live this summer.

The scheme will also allow people to obtain superfast broadband via other technologies than just fibre, such as satellite, fixed wireless access or mobile broadband (4G / 5G). We tend to view the inclusion of Satellite as being somewhat of a weak fix, although if SpaceX or similar companies can ever produce an affordable ultrafast broadband option from their growing network of LEO spacecraft (due to go live soon-ish) then that could become attractive again.

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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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18 Responses
  1. Avatar Wilf says:

    If someone from Gigaclear is reading this, could you please shed light as to why you’re delaying R100 roll out in Northern Scotland? Is it a classic case of sour grapes? I hope you’re really proud of your actions!

    1. Avatar Gary says:

      My MP requested clarification form the Minister, all we got back was a lengthy but useless 2 page reply , covering pretty much all of the work done so far and the aims for R100, but not actually answering the question.

      I think its unacceptable that a legal challenge to a National project can be made without any information being made public whatsoever. I dont expect commercial secrets, but the basis of the complaint should be stated.

      7 month delay to the Northern Lot so far guess they’ll just blame Covid.

    2. Avatar Wilf says:

      My guess is Gigaclear are accusing BT/Openreach of having won the contract for LOT 1 unfairly/illegally. So they’re now prepared to delay the rollout to LOT 1 indefinitely purely due to their financial greed. Barstewards!

    3. Avatar Jonathan says:

      Except given the clear failings of Gigaclear elsewhere in the UK on public contracts the Scottish Government have ample reasons to rule them out, for a history of being unable to deliver. Personaly I hope the Scottish governmemt countersues for damages of the lost economic activity the delayed fibre broadband has to the highlands and islands. That would teach Gigaclear who are clearly a bunch of over optamistic incompetent twits.

    4. Avatar Stephen says:

      WILF – I second that.
      After 6 years of being in scope, our street in Aberdeenshire (AB39, near Stonehaven) began the FTTP installation. In April there was a flurry of activity & great progress was being made. However the work came to an abrupt halt. One of the Engineers said the funding had run out. I’m surprised they would start a rollout without full funding being in place.
      I cannot find out any information on the Gigaclear legal challenge & Openreach are ignoring all queries as per usual. It’s infuriating not knowing what is hapening.

  2. Avatar Ogilvie Jackson says:

    Well , it’s a start thank goodness !
    Looking forward to the online checker to see who gets what and when.
    Don’t dismiss 4G LTE if you can get a signal.
    I went 800m up a hillside to get one, useing fibre . Getting 45 mps and unlimited usage for £30 / month.

    1. Avatar Love Broadband says:

      Ogilve, that sounds a great solution.

      Can you share what equipment you’ve used, provider, the reliability and ping rate etc?
      How did you get power up that hill?

      Has this worked as good as you expected?

    2. Avatar Ogilvie Jackson says:

      Love Broadband , get in touch with me at
      oggjacksonuk@gmail.com

      Will sort out some info for you.

  3. Avatar Brian says:

    Looking forward to the checker, though I have concerns over how they define “summer”

    1. Avatar Patiently-waiting-to-join-the-21st-century says:

      We had Summer a couple of weeks ago near Inverness!

    2. Avatar Gadget says:

      I believe Billy Connolly once defined the seasons in Scotland as being only two – “June” and “Winter”.

  4. Avatar craski says:

    Fingers are crossed for a massive improvement in the checker and hope that it will be at a premises level and give confidence that a plan does exist and its not just aspirational high level targets. I’ll personally be happy just to know there is a plan and FTTP will come at some point. If after all these years an FTTC cabinet shows up 1.5 miles away in the nearest village, I and many others are going to be sorely disappointed in R100!

    1. Avatar Scottie says:

      Clearly if that was the case you would be eligible for a voucher.
      That’s the point of the scheme – ie a voucher is avail if the contracted build programme is not going to reach you or is for anyone in the defined scope area that is a planned beyond 2021 … only concern would be if you take a voucher now and have a service over 30mbps – it’s likely you will get and get bumped out the main programme given speed is avail when FTTP is likely coming later on. Care needed I think In decisions.
      Sometimes a level of patience will be right answer unless the solution
      Procured is allowed to be overbuilt which you would think might breach state aid.

    2. Avatar Gary says:

      Sadly this is where R100 and the later UK gov aspirations clash. R100 unfortunately is, for those who don’t get a fibre connection out of it going to be a stop gap. As such the ones who end up with some form of lesser connection, 4G for example are still going to be at the bottom of the cost vs numbers list and I’d expect to be the last to see anything better.

      I went for 4G and cancelled my crappy adsl a while ago, I dont regret the decision but having a connection that exceeds the SGov target may well exclude me from a potentially much better solution under R100, But I doubt it, I’m in one of those sparse areas that make zero business sense to spend the money providing fibre.

    3. Avatar Gary says:

      Hmm poor proof reading before I posted, that last part doesn’t make sense.
      What I meant is that I doubt my having a now decent 4G solution will make much difference to me in the med/long term as I believe that our area is clearly a prime candidate for a 4G resolution under R100 as many don’t get signal here and a 4G infill tower or wireless seems to be the most likely.

  5. Avatar Iain bryce says:

    Is the checker live would like to know where I stand.

  6. Avatar G Campbell says:

    I’m confused by the lots as im in the central belt (Strathaven) and got a letter from Axione to say the are doing drone surveys. Also had confirmation From a councillor Axione would be doing Stonehouse and Strathaven areas by Q4 2020 and Q2 2021 Respectively. I thought it was supposed to be BT or can Axione do the work due to BT having shares in them?

  7. Avatar Richard Muirhead says:

    I own a holiday home in St Catherines, Cairndow, Argyll PA258AZ and following enhancements in local provision via the 1st stage of the Scot Gov Project we saw an increase from 2mb to 28mb via LPIS (leisure park internet services) being the provider. This has been consistent for around 18 months via radio link from Inveraray Exchange to a mast in St Catherines and into BT network. Recently signal has been variable despite LPIS confirming signal going in is consistent. I also note that BT service is now advertised from 1-3 mb and plusnet/talk talk no longer offer a service after the earlier enhancements all advertised up to 36 signal? Any ideas why this would be? I have sought official feedback. Thanks.

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