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Autumn UK Budget 2021 Gifts GBP8m for Gigabit Broadband in Scotland

Wednesday, October 27th, 2021 (2:30 pm) - Score 1,632
Parliament UK Building at Dusk in London 2021

The Chancellor of the UK Government, Rishi Sunak MP, has today published his Autumn Budget 2021 statement – the second one this year – and sadly made no major new broadband announcements. But we did notice that a further £8m had been allocated to help 3,600 premises in north Scotland access “full fibre” broadband.

As usual, you have to take a deep look into the Budget’s small print in order to find where it states that “a further £8 million” has been allocated from the Government’s £5bn Project Gigabit programme in order to “deliver full fibre to 3,600 premises in Scotland including Aberdeenshire, Angus, Highland, Moray and Perth and Kinross.”

At the time of writing, we don’t yet have the exact context for this change, although it seems likely to be related to the Scottish Government’s existing £600m Reaching 100% (R100) project, specifically the recently finalised LOT 1 (North Scotland and the Highlands) contract with Openreach (BT).

At the start of this month we were informed that 100% of LOT 1, which will benefit a total of 59,276 premises, would be reached via Openreach’s Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) network as part of that contract – this rollout is due to be completed during the financial year 2026/27.

However, the Building Digital UK programme team has indicated to us that the additional £8m relates to a contract change that will “flip” (upgrade) some previously planned FTTC upgrades for FTTP (i.e. no new premises overall, but a higher proportion of the project should now be FTTP) – they did the same for LOT 2 (Central Scotland) before (here).

NOTE: The previous LOT 2 change saw £4.5m from Project Gigabit being used to flip 5,368 premises in Ayrshire, Edinburgh, Falkirk, Fife, Stirlingshire, Greater Glasgow and Lothian from FTTC to FTTP.

Given that 100% of the LOT 1 premises are already expected to get FTTP, we can only assume that the 59,276 premises figure is already reflecting today’s boost. We have requested a clarification and will report back later.

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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. Lucian says:

    They need to a whole lot more to appease the Scottish, but hey, better than nothing. :-))

  2. Buggerlugz says:

    Well throw them the scraps. Still doesn’t make up for the £37B him and his mates grifted themselves for track and trace though…

    1. Bob2002 says:

      Track and trace has not cost £37 billion, from FullFact –

      Claim: £37 billion has been spent on NHS Test and Trace so far.

      Verdict: This is not true. £37 billion is the budget for the project’s first two years. We don’t know exactly how much was spent by early March, but it will be much less.

    2. Bob says:

      No government contract ever runs over budget of course.

    3. Buggerlugz says:

      I’m not saying it was actually spent on the NHS, I’m saying a good proportion of it was stolen by MP’s who set up shell entitites as cover for their own mask and PPE companies so they could award the contracts too themselves and make millions out of dying taxpayers.

  3. Ben says:

    They were going to instsl new FTTC in 2026?! Madness!

    1. Fastman says:

      ben madness or not if the contract spec if to get > greater than 30 mgbs then is some cases where FTTP wont cost in or would be massively expensive because of the amount of Direct in ground in some locations especially housing estates (small and large) whcih were built in 1970s early 1980s a lot will have a mix of direct in ground

  4. TedToes says:

    “…gifts…”! That’s a bit of a loaded word to use. Would it be a ‘gift’ if it was going to somewhere else in the UK?

    1. Mark Jackson says:

      Yes, it could be, I’ve used it before with various UK projects, usually as a light-hearted play on words.

    2. John H says:

      Watching Blackford complaining about funds going direct to Scottish Councils was great fun yesterday, especially as some were SNP controlled Councils and had applied to UK Govt directly.

  5. Jean-Claud Juncker says:

    Why isn’t the SNP funding it? Why throw money at ungrateful Scots who will just turn around after taking the money and still hate us. I’d rather we spent it on the Welsh.

    1. Jock Man says:

      Well maybe if you can persuade Boris to give us a referendum and ‘YES’ wins, then sure the SNP (or whoever is in power) can fund it 100%.

  6. Gordon MacCormick says:

    Hi Mark,

    The information you were given at the start of this month, “that 100% of LOT 1, would be reached via Openreach’s Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) network”, is not correct, and at best, is misleading.

    While it may be true that 100% of the premises that Openreach have committed to connecting up, under their R100 Lot 1 contract, will get full FTTP connections, that is entirely different from saying that 100% of premises, in Lot 1, will be connected to Openreach’s FTTP network.

    I can’t speak for the wider Lot 1 area, but on the Isle of Mull alone, which is part of Lot 1, there are at least 150 premises that are not currently included in Openreach’s plans. Those are premises within the R100 intervention area, and all in scope for the R100 programme.

    Over half of those premises, at least 90, make up four small communities, that are also the entire exchange areas of Pennyghael and Tiroran. Both of those exchanges are Exchange Activate, which gives them a maximum broadband D/L speed of 0.5Mbps.

    It would perhaps be fairer to use some of that BDUK £8 million to “flip” those premises, and others like them in Lot 1, and give them access to a connection of at least 30Mbps, as promised by the R100 programme.

    Just in case anyone thinks that those communities are in the back of beyond, and too remote to be connected, the main R100 fibre spine that will cross Mull to connect up the South West of the island, plus the neighbouring islands of Iona, and Colonsay, is to be routed directly through two of those communities.

  7. Grant Feasey says:

    Following from Gordon’s comment I can confirm around 30 properties in my exchange area are omitted entirely from the openreach Lot 1 build. We are located between 1-2 miles from an FTTC located on the A96 between Nairn and Forres. Too far from the cabinet to order fibre so stuck with 3mbs down, 0.3mbs up. The £5K voucher is useless because all the companies listed are too busy to respond. It would be interesting to know exactly what percentage of properties are actually being connected by Openreach under the Lot 1 contract.

  8. Martin says:

    “Gifts” – that really is derogatory. Some of my income tax goes to Westminster, as does VAT and other assorted taxes. So we get some of our own money back from a Tory government we did not elect.

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