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Five More Broadband ISPs Sign Scotland’s Full Fibre Charter

Monday, Apr 4th, 2022 (11:02 am) - Score 1,680
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The Scottish Government (SG) has announced that five more broadband network providers have committed to supporting Scotland’s Full Fibre Charter, including Borderlink, Cloudnet, Hyperoptic, Lothian Broadband and Virgin Media (VMO2). The charter consists of a series of pledges to help extend full fibre coverage.

The original Charter launched in December 2020 and was initially only supported by Axione, CityFibre and Openreach (BT) as founding signatories. Supporting providers commit to five key pledges and must also participate in an industry forum, but this is a two-way street and so the SG also made five pledges of its own to the industry.

NOTE: The first Full Fibre Charter Ministerial Forum is expected to be hosted by the Economy Secretary in the “next few months“.

For example, the SG pledged to remove non-domestic rates on all newly laid and “lit” fibre optic infrastructure for 10 years, from 1st April 2019, allowing reinvestment into further fibre build (here). In fairness, this existed before the Full Fibre Charter and thus applies more widely, although the SG did recently extend that relief for another 5-years until March 2034.

All of this is being used to help underpin the SG’s existing £600m Reaching 100% (R100) project with BT (Openreach), which is busy extending fixed “superfast broadband” (30Mbps+) coverage across rural parts of the country (almost entirely via FTTP). In addition, it will no doubt also help to support Scotland’s share of the UK Government’s new £5bn Project Gigabit programme (work on this has already started).

Kate Forbes, SG Economy Secretary, said:

“We want Scotland to become a truly digital nation, underpinned by high quality connectivity that supports people and businesses, innovation and growth. Our digital infrastructure is critical and central to our economic and social success.

“Supporting the ambitions set out in our recently published National Strategy for Economic Transformation, we have extended rates relief on newly ‘laid and lit’ fibre for a further five years. This is expected to unlock further commercial investment and help drive delivery of full fibre networks.

Delivered through our Full Fibre Charter, we are able to encourage operators to back fair working practices to help boost skills and focus on opportunities for career progression.

As well as ensuring more households and businesses access full fibre broadband, our investment in future-proofed, resilient connectivity can help deliver our ambitions as a nation of entrepreneurs and innovators.”

The pledges under this charter are almost all fairly broad and generalised, which makes it difficult to know whether or not the charter itself is adding anything that wouldn’t have been done anyway. But any forum that enables network operators to engage more closely with the government is usually a positive thing.

The 5 Operator pledges

1. Deliver infrastructure

Accelerate our delivery of full fibre networks to all of Scotland, both through commercial rollout and if using public funding, including investing Scottish Government enabled fibre tax relief to extend coverage to areas that would otherwise be regarded as uncommercial.

2. Prioritise build

Continue to work with Scottish Government on any future Open Market Review data returns, data monitoring or other data gathering exercises to assist in identifying and prioritising areas that have no coverage for investment in new full fibre broadband and mobile connectivity.

3. Support our Digital Strategy

Support the Scottish Government’s digital connectivity objectives by contributing resources and practical support for Scotland in the deployment of full fibre and 5G networks, including actively seeking opportunities for trialing new technologies in Scotland, and improving rural connectivity.

4. Supporting and developing our workforce

We will develop our workforce in Scotland, ensuring they have the necessary skills for delivery and maintenance of full fibre networks. We will support career progression, ensuring our workforce can access opportunities that allow them to enhance their skills and experiences, for example through the use of work based learning such as Scotland’s Apprenticeship Programme. We will seek opportunities to recruit and develop under-represented groups in the sector and related STEM fields to support Scottish Government aims in the workforce, most particularly with regards to gender equality and developing the young workforce. We will have world class health and safety processes and checks, building on the industry wide response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

5. Work fairly

We will ensure that our Scottish operations work towards implementing the Fair Work First approach by adopting fair working practices that focus on: appropriate channels for effective voice, such as trade union recognition; investment in workforce development; no inappropriate use of zero hours contracts; action to tackle the gender pay gap and create more diverse and inclusive workplaces, and payment of the real Living Wage.

We will seek to make a positive contribution to the national mission of creating new jobs, good jobs and green jobs. We recognise the benefits of encouraging our workforce to be healthier and more active and will seek to support the Scottish Government’s ambitions and initiatives for a healthy nation, such as the Daily Mile Nation commitment, though our health at work programmes and by removing the barriers to physical activity.

The 5 Scottish Government pledges

In return, we commit to:

1. Relieve rates

Remove non-domestic rates on all newly laid and ‘lit’ infrastructure for 10 years, from 1 April 2019, allowing reinvestment into further fibre build.

2. Identify priorities

Work with signatories to identify areas of greatest need for both full fibre broadband and mobile connectivity and how investment in Scotland’s digital infrastructure can be accelerated.

3. Identify opportunities

Work with public sector partners to encourage anchor tenancy and other use of fibre infrastructure, including promotion via the Scottish Wide Area Network (SWAN).

4. Overcome barriers

Work with signatories to develop solutions and implement means to investigate barriers to the efficient deployment of fibre infrastructure, working closely with the UK Government.

5. Come together/collaborate

Promote a regular open and inclusive forum for industry, facilitated by Ministers with input as appropriate from key bodies such as regulators, trade unions etc.

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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 X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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1 Response
  1. Avatar photo Kaushik says:

    Is the 5 year fibre tax already expired in other parts as originally planned at the end of last month?

Comments are closed

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