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Progress Update on R100 Scotland Superfast Broadband Rollout

Thursday, Mar 17th, 2022 (5:25 pm) - Score 3,336
Audit Scotland Map R100 Contract LOTs

A new report from Audit Scotland has provided somewhat of a summary and progress update on the Scottish Government’s £600m Reaching 100% (R100) project with BT (Openreach), which is busy extending fixed “superfast broadband” (30Mbps+) coverage across rural parts of the country (mostly via FTTP).

The R100 programme is split between three contract LOTS and focused on extending 30Mbps+ capable connectivity across as much of the final c.5% of poorly served premises in Scotland as possible. For example, LOT 2 (Central Scotland) will reach 32,216 premises and 95.6% of those will be via FTTP (the rest are FTTC), while LOT 3 (Southern Scotland) will reach 20,740 premises and 100% of that is FTTP.

NOTE: LOT 1 also includes a £35m subsea fibre rollout (16 new links) to help connect 15 more remote islands (here), which is due to commence this summer.

By comparison, the award of the largest LOT 1 (North Scotland and the Highlands) contract took a lot longer (here) after it was delayed by a legal challenge from rival bidder Gigaclear (here), but it is expected to deliver faster connectivity to cover a further 59,276 premises (100% via gigabit-capable FTTP).

Overall, around 112,000 premises are now expected to be connected through the three R100 contracts by the end of 2027 and, at the end of 2021, Openreach had so far been able to complete just 5,300 of these. The average cost to connect premises under R100 has also increased from around £4,000 to £5,690 – due to the increase in the number of FTTP connections, which are more expensive (the original plan involved more FTTC).

The cost to connect premises varies significantly between and within the LOTS due to the different geographies and spread of premises and technologies used. For example, the Scottish Government estimates that some island premises could cost around £20,000 to connect, while those in the Central lot may average £3,090 per premises.

Scotland-R100-December-2021-Progress

We also get an update on the Scottish Broadband Voucher Scheme (SBVS), which provides vouchers worth up to £5,000 to connect those properties for which there is no roll-out of superfast broadband planned (rising to £6,500 with a top-up from the UK scheme). But in order to make it seem like they were still holding to the original 2021 completion commitment, they also introduced a smaller interim scheme.

The Interim Voucher Scheme is a bit of an oddball in that it’s focused on “premises that are due to be connected by the R100 contracts or a commercial supplier after 2021” (i.e. duplicating some of R100’s public investment). Such premises can take a voucher worth up to £400 (plus an additional £250 in some of the hardest-to-reach areas), which can be used on satellite, fixed wireless, mobile broadband or fixed line solutions.

By December 2021, some 1,426 voucher connections (826 main scheme and 600 interim scheme) had been installed, at a total value of £2.1m (the smaller interim scheme is due to close at the end of this month, after it was extended last year). The original estimated cost of the scheme was between £22m to £28.6m, based on a take-up of 20 to 30 per cent for the main scheme and 3 to 4 per cent for the interim scheme.

Overall, the report notes that there are currently 207,000 premises without access to superfast broadband. The R100 project looks set to tackle over half of those, while commercial deployments are planned to deal with another 20,500. This leaves over 70,000 premises that will need to be tackled through vouchers or the new £5bn Project Gigabit programme (work on this has already started). But we’d expect the latter figure to change once the current market reviews have been completed.

Connecting the final premises will be hugely challenging. Many are in the hardest to reach locations with difficult terrain.

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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 X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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Comments
15 Responses
  1. Avatar photo John H says:

    So R100 was supposed to to cover 100%, but

    Overall, the report notes that there are currently 207,000 premises without access to superfast broadband. The R100 project looks set to tackle over half of those

    Means it should really have been called R50 and even then still late.

  2. Avatar photo Brian says:

    So only covering 2/3 of those who need it

  3. Avatar photo Pedro says:

    Did I see that the contract details (Graphic image 1)is for 100% FTTP in each of the 3 zones giving ultrafast speeds???

    1. Mark-Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      As above, not the Central LOT, which is 95.6% FTTP. The rest are 100% FTTP.

  4. Avatar photo Gary H says:

    Some Island properties may be £20,000 ? Does that include the share of all the subsea fibre links paid for out of the R100 funds or just the fibre to the property.

    1. Avatar photo Sunil Sood says:

      Yes, it sounds odd.

      Some of the properties covered, especially in Lot 1 are going to be quite rural and cost a lot more than £20k to cover.

  5. Avatar photo ian barker says:

    Too many missed targets to believe anything anymore!

    1. Avatar photo Martin says:

      It is difficult as the target has moved from FTTC speeds to FTTP.

      I am surprised the report did not comment on legal access problems (or not) which are within the SG’s remit.

    2. Avatar photo Brian says:

      Suspect a lot of the problem has been lack of knowledge of those people running the programmes, you need to only look at the misleading and inaccurate information that has come from Superfast Scotland over the years.

  6. Avatar photo Sandra Cowe says:

    There is fibre already situated around 100 metres from my home, with two properties further away from the connection point up a steep hill having fibre already, whilst mine and a couple of other properties have not – all same postcode. When I enquired to Openreach about using the £400 voucher given that the fibre is already in my area, I was quoted £28,160 ex-Vat for them to do the work! What a complete joke, and I’m not holding my breath for the anticipated end Sept 22 where R100 might do the job!

  7. Avatar photo K Gaunt says:

    We have to rely on an exteremely expensive (£77pcm) very poor, limited and capped satellite internet service from Bigblu. The company were completely uncompromising and rigid in relation to their service and caps during the pandemic (home schooling/WFH). Compounding our problem, we have no mobile phone signal and a landline, provided by BT, which is unusable most of the time and not fit for purpose!

    I have been battling for over 3yrs now with BT to sort our landline, we’ve had engineer after engineer who have all said the copper cabling and infrastructure is beyond repair. Fibre poles and cabling were finally installed last September – scheduled (as per website info) to be connected December 2021, early January 2022, this date was moved back to June 2022. We’re now into May and I’m not holding out much hope we’ll be connected anytime soon.

    Householders living in rural locations are effectively treated like second class citizens.

    1. Avatar photo ian barker says:

      Agree completely

      Prioritise those that have poor connection rather than those that already have good connections please

    2. Avatar photo J Neil says:

      We were meant to be connected end of March 2022 and its was delayed till June 2022 and with a couple of days to go i can see if being pushed back again. The street has been dug up, cables lay and still nothing. BT in our area can push 1-2mb and if you get above the guaranteed 1mb then they say its “acceptable”.

      How can they not figure out that for most things sky, BT, electricity etc they are all pushing customers online and if the connection is sub-par then it cant be done.

      unless its a city or big town they aren’t interested but still want a premium for sub par service

  8. Avatar photo Bill F says:

    Was due R100 in March 2022. All surveyed and preliminary work. Moved to September 2022. No sign of them meeting that target.

    Asked BT Openreach what position was. After a lot of effort they admitted they cannot tell me due to conditions of their R100 Contract.

    R100 Team say they have no detailed information available as they only do high level management.

    So total obfuscation achieved.

  9. Avatar photo Pat Colston says:

    We live on a minor road just over 1 mile from a main A road in Perthshire, but are classed as “hard to reach” by Openreach. No indication of when we will be upgraded from our 1mb. No-one should be getting 300mb and over when we are plodding on with 1mb.

Comments are closed

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