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Clarifying Scotland’s R100 Broadband Rollout Progress UPDATE

Friday, Jan 19th, 2024 (9:57 am) - Score 2,520
Digital-Scotland-R100-October-2023-Infographic

Yesterday the First Minister of the Scottish Government, Humza Yousaf, revealed that the £600m Reaching 100% (R100) broadband upgrade project with Openreach (BT) “remains on track to complete build … by 2028” and had so far covered “more than 36,100 premises“. But in October 2023 the figure was stated as 42,000, so which is correct?

At present, around 96% of premises in Scotland already have access to a 30Mbps+ capable network and 74% are within reach of gigabit speeds. But a further 114,000 premises are planned to be covered across the three R100 contract LOTs by March 2028 (here and here). LOT 1 (North Scotland and the Highlands) is expected to cover 60,764 premises (100% via FTTP) by 2027/28, while LOT 2 (Central Scotland) will reach 32,216 premises (95.6% via FTTP and the rest FTTC) by 2023/24 and LOT 3 (Southern Scotland) targets 21,889 premises (100% via FTTP) by 2024/25.

NOTE: In Scotland the responsibility for broadband is reserved to Westminster, but that doesn’t stop local and devolved authorities from making their own investments (e.g. R100). Funding for R100 includes £592.2m of Scottish Government investment, £49.4m of UK Government (BDUK) investment and £54.1m from BT.

However, there has been a bit of recent confusion in terms of the reported progress, which started in October 2023 after the “R100 Facts” page on the Scottish Government’s Digital Scotland (DS) website posted an update (pictured – top) to say that the R100 programme had now covered over 42,000 premises (that would be up from 24,194 in late May 2023). The same update noted that 3,500 vouchers had also been consumed.

Suffice to say, this doesn’t quite chime with what the First Minister said this week (36,100) and even adding the voucher build to that total still leaves a sizeable gap, particularly given the passage of time.

First Minister, Humza Yousaf, said:

“All homes and businesses across Scotland can currently access a superfast broadband service. The R100 contracts go beyond that by extending access to gigabit-capable broadband, which is more than 30 times faster than what we originally committed to.

Our programme remains on track to complete build and ensure that all contracted premises are connected by 2028. So far, more than 36,100 premises have been connected, and the remainder will be phased between now and 2028.

Despite swingeing cuts from the United Kingdom Government, the Scottish Government has prioritised investment in digital connectivity in the 2024-25 budget, in recognition of the fact that digital connectivity is a key building block for a green and growing economy.”

So which is the correct figure? The First Minister’s figure is the correct one (more or less), not least because the Building Digital UK agency reported R100 as having provided gigabit connectivity to over 37,000 premises across Scotland in its Winter update last month (here).

Naturally, we’ve queried why the Government’s official DS website is still headlining with the higher figure of 42,000 premises, which it should be noted also uses the rather vague “faster broadband” language. The reason appears to be because on that page they’ve published the total R100 programme build, which includes the impact from contracted build, overspill and vouchers.

The key difference being in “overspill“, which isn’t usually included into official totals because it catches the extra premises that Openreach picks up while working within the same areas on the R100 build. We’ve also had it confirmed that the 36,100 figure didn’t include the impact from vouchers, which is more obvious. So, there you have it, just a little insight into the “fun” we have on a daily basis while trying to keep track of this market.

UPDATE 2:14pm

The Scottish Government has stated that overspill currently stands at over 9,000 premises, while the Scottish Broadband Voucher Scheme would also add over 3,600 connections. So, if we add those two to the FM’s 36,100 figure, then the latest overall total would be 48,700 premises. The catch is that now, every time the SG puts out a new figure, we’ll have to question precisely what it’s actually including again. Hurray.

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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
8 Responses
  1. Avatar photo Adam says:

    Their postcode checker has been down for me since last night

    “Sorry, your address checker session has expired. Press the ‘Back’ button to start again.”

    Same message on all devices

  2. Avatar photo Murray Sharp says:

    We were included in the R100 and openreach were funded to deliver FTTP as it was stated no comercial build was viable. Six months later Nextfibre have built out to the same area with Virgin Media now offering FTTP to same homes.

    1. Mark-Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      Was the Openreach R100 build ever completed? If not, then SGov may simply de-scope the area from Openreach’s build and the investment will go toward expansion elsewhere. Such things do happen in major programmes like this, and in this case it will be because nexfibre only recently finalised their rollout plan (i.e. it wouldn’t have been included in the original Open Market Review when R100’s build was set).

    2. Avatar photo Murray Sharp says:

      Yes Mark the R100 was completed.

  3. Avatar photo Bob Wallis says:

    Super fast for all in Scotland they must have missed my house lucky if we get 3mb down 0.25up . Date keeps changing of 30mb now sometime in the next year but the date keeps moving along.

  4. Avatar photo The facts says:

    First Minister, Humza Yousaf, said:

    “All homes and businesses across Scotland can currently access a superfast broadband service.

    <24M – https://labs.thinkbroadband.com/local/index.php?tab=2&election=1#6/55.267/-0.143/nonsuperfast/

    1. Mark-Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      Yes, we’ve dismantled that kind of remark from the SG a few times now. The availability of a voucher scheme does not equal 100% coverage of superfast broadband, if it did then there would be no complaints about broadband and no further investment would be required. Vouchers don’t solve the problem, they only help in some specific areas.

  5. Avatar photo ConditionalEntropy says:

    I live in a rural part of South Ayrshire and we had full gigabit (albeit asymmetric) FTTP rolled out last year. I also made use of a voucher when we first moved here in 2021, which paid for an external 4g antenna that gave quite acceptable speeds (around 90/20). So for us the R100 has been brilliant, and served it’s purpose as we wouldn’t have moved out here if it wasn’t in place.

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