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Update on R100 Progress in Scotland and Possible Voucher Delay

Tuesday, August 4th, 2020 (9:19 am) - Score 1,645
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The Scottish Government has issued a small update on the progress of their £600m R100 (Reaching 100%) project with BT, which is working to extend “superfast broadband” (30Mbps+) coverage. The good news is that the first Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) build is about to begin, but the voucher scheme may be delayed.

Just to recap. Scotland has so far awarded two of its three contracts – Central (LOT 2) and Southern (LOT 3) – to BT (Openreach). Meanwhile an on-going legal challenge by UK ISP Gigaclear against the proposed award of LOT 1 (North Scotland / Highlands) to BT continues to delay that part of the project (here).

NOTE: R100 focuses on the final 5-6% of premises without superfast broadband or any future upgrade plans. The LOT 2 contract will upgrade at least 47,000 of these, while LOT 3 will do around 26,000.

Otherwise Openreach’s engineers are expected to reach around half of the target premises in LOT 2 and 3 – 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 (LOT 3 by summer 2024). The vast majority of this is being delivered using gigabit capable Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) technology (see here and here).

According to the SG’s latest statement to telecommunications operators, Openreach’s engineering surveys for LOT 2 and 3 are coming to an end and physical construction of the new network is now beginning (July/August 2020). But their related plan for a “nationwide superfast voucher scheme” is now due to launch “later in the year,” which sounds further away than the previously mentioned “summer” launch (here).

At this stage we still don’t know much about the voucher scheme, except for a few bits. Anyone (homes and businesses) who will not be able to access superfast broadband through the R100 project by the end of 2021 – even if R100 will ultimately reach them – will be eligible for a voucher. We expect that this will be conducted alongside the UK Government’s RGC scheme (here), which could increase the value of such vouchers for rural areas.

We also got a small update on the original £463m Digital Scotland project, which has now largely completed (here). Apparently some FTTC/P build is still on-going across the Highlands & Islands side of that contract, which is expected to continue into November/December 2020 before ending. R100 is obviously the follow-on scheme for this.

Finally, there was a brief mention of the £25m 4G Infill Programme, which has been rolling out new 4G mobile masts across rural parts of Scotland. Like so many things, this was suspended in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 crisis, but the update states that the SG and their supplier – WHP Telecoms Ltd – were starting to safely resume build from June 2020. Credits to one of our members, JTScotland, for spotting this update.

UPDATE 10:42am

Thanks also to Steve for pointing out that the Gigaclear legal action (CA172/19 Gigaclear Ltd &c v The Scottish Ministers) is scheduled tomorrow (Wed 5th Aug) for a Procedural Hearing between 9.30am and 10.00am.

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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.
Leave a Comment
8 Responses
  1. Avatar Brian says:

    Still no apparent sign of premises checker, due to be available this summer, so 3.5 weeks left.

    1. Avatar John H says:

      Try

      https://www.scotlandsuperfast.com/

      which has a postcode checker which then gives a selection of addresses to choose from.

      Its downhill from there, it tells me my address is in scope for FTTP (which is goo) but due to the way the FTTP installation works the next update will not be until it goes live. With the risk of course that it may drop out of scope later no doubt.

    2. Avatar Brian says:

      Also seeing in scope, so no information other than by summer 2024.

    3. Avatar John H says:

      Yes, but Ryan’s suggestion of by 2100 may be closer to the truth 😉

      I am using 4G currently, today and yesterday the mast is down for upgrade, if I get a band 32 or band 1 download add on to band 3 FTTP may be not worth the effort.

      Three’s postcode network checker says

      We’re performing network upgrades in your area
      We’re sorry for any disruption you’re experiencing. But you’ll be able to enjoy a better, stronger network very soon.

      As part of The Big Network Build, we’re making a significant investment in our network to bring you an improved 4G network, and new 5G infrastructure.

    4. Avatar Adam says:

      My address recently changed to FTTP in scope. I contacted their fibre availability team to see if they had an estimated date of when works may start. “FTTP Project On Going for your area which is expected to get completed by 22/23 Q4” So if what they say is accurate it may be a long time for FTTP for others who show FTTP in scope too. FTTP news is constantly changing though so i won’t hold my breath.

      And if it is accurate info my rural setting makes me think it’ll come to me in Q4 of 23 as im sure their priority will be small populated areas or a cluster of homes instead of individual properties out in the sticks. Time will tell

  2. Avatar Ryan says:

    R100 has a new meaning… Completion by 2100 haha!

  3. Avatar Ogilvie Jackson says:

    Yes, its this elusive R100 postcode checker we all want to see . Big announcement on TV yesterday about Ultrafast FTTP starting build in local Border towns , but NO mention of R100 kicking off. Where is it starting ??.
    Our Scot Gov 4g infill mast goes live in September which is great news . At least this scheme is progressing .

  4. Avatar JTScotland says:

    Any update on the activity in court yesterday?

    Assume it was purely procedural but did it give any indication of the start date for presenting the case against the contract being awarded to OR?

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