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447,170 Premises in Scotland Need Help to Get Gigabit Broadband

Thursday, Mar 23rd, 2023 (2:40 pm) - Score 1,456
scotland 3d broadband map uk

The Scottish Government has published a new Public Review (PR) consultation for Scotland, which reveals that some 447,170 premises might need state aid help under the UK Government’s £5bn Project Gigabit broadband rollout scheme in order to access 1Gbps speeds (rising to 1,281,434 if including ‘Under Review‘ premises).

The project, which is targeted at upgrading areas in the final 20% of the UK (5-6 million premises) where commercial investment models tend to fail, seeks to ensure that a minimum of 85%+ of UK premises can access a gigabit-capable broadband ISP connection by the end of 2025, before reaching “nationwide” coverage (realistically c.99%) by the end of 2030 (here and here).

NOTE: Commercial builds – mostly in urban areas – have largely already pushed gigabit coverage to around 70% of Scotland and rising (mix of FTTP and Hybrid Fibre Coax).

However, the first step – before procurements can begin and contracts be awarded to suppliers – is to identify precisely which areas are not expected to benefit from gigabit speeds under existing commercial builds, which covers related plans for the next 3 years. This is known as an Open Market Review (OMR). Only once you have the answer to that, can you identify where public funding will be needed to help address market failure.

The most recent OMR for Scotland, which was conducted in October 2022, appears to have identified that this will leave 447,170 premises without access to gigabit-capable broadband (‘White Premises‘) and mark a further 834,264 premises as ‘Under Review‘. The latter reflects premises where suppliers have reported current or planned commercial gigabit broadband coverage, but where those plans are at some risk of not being completed or the claimed coverage has not been verified (gaps in supplied evidence by providers may also account for some of this figure).

The Scottish Government and Building Digital UK agency has now launched the final PR phase before procurement can begin, which aims to validate the outcome of the earlier OMR. In addition, any suppliers (network builders) that failed or were not yet ready with their plans to respond to the earlier OMR phase can still respond via the final PR phase in order to be included. This is important because the current market is rapidly evolving, with new networks and deployment plans seeming to crop up quite frequently.

The new PR for Scotland will be open for industry / supplier responses until 24th April 2023. Hopefully, once this has completed, we’ll get a better idea of how much funding will be directed from Project Gigabit to help Scotland close what appears to be quite big coverage gap. Related procurements are expected to follow later in 2023 sometime.

Meanwhile, the earlier Public Review responses to the proposed local procurement in the Inverness area have been evaluated and assured by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), and soft market testing is now underway with interested suppliers.

Scotland Public Review for Project Gigabit

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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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8 Responses
  1. Avatar photo John says:

    No they do not need the taxpayer to fund digging ducting in the middle of nowhere up in the hills, they just need Starlink for a tiny fraction of the cost

    1. Avatar photo Gina Ward says:

      Starlink is NOT able to deliver 1 gigabit

    2. Avatar photo Brian says:

      To get that sort of number, these are not isolated properties, but premises that are on FTTC that may not be viable to upgrade to FTTP.

    3. Avatar photo Jonathan says:

      Depends if you do full economic costing over the lifespan of the fibre optic cable then I can assure you that fibre optic cable is not only faster but cheaper.

  2. Avatar photo KJT says:

    I’m in a rural area and I’ve been tracking the works. The areas surrounding me have went from “Between 2024-2026” to installing now. Road Works indicates they’re installing the ducting towards me at the beginning of April. This change in status happened within two weeks. Non Openreach companies seem focused on the dense populations. We’re lucky – my average speed is 70 which is sufficient and pretty decent for a small rural community. But I’m really pleased with the speed of the build here. Just a bit frustrating I’ve had to do the legwork and knew what was happening before Openreach’s plans gave any indication things were progressing.

    1. Avatar photo Fastman says:

      are you sure your actually being connected (check your premise with openreach.co.uk) as if you got 70 mbps its pretty unlikely your being covered by R100 (as they are targeted at sub 30 meg premises – so it might just be a fibre run through the village which is why it might still say 2024 – 2026

    2. Avatar photo Andrew G says:

      I believe there’s a vacancy for the god of shattering high hopes, and I think you’re in there Fastman. 🙂

    3. Avatar photo KJT says:

      100% positive Fastman 🙂 The maps a bit unreliable. It switched from all “coming soon” to building 20 minutes away, to villiages surrounding me being given base infatstructure to my one next. Some are already connected from the starting point towards my area and Openreach have been working in a direct line on that froont to lay ducting before erecting poles.

      In a matter of weeks the maps went from black region to multicoloured. It might not be as fast as I hope – but they seem to be updating the map from “not yet!” to “within 12 months” as soon as they’ve finished that part, then “building in progress” fairly swiftly.

      What I’ve learned from this? Don’t trust the map. Trust the road works. They indicate faster than the Openreach map will and have given far more of a heads up than OR’s fibre map.

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