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Scotland publishes Infrastructure Action Plan
Tuesday 31 January 2012 14:34:07 by Andrew Ferguson

The Scottish Government has in the past taken some criticism over the delays to the publication of its Digital Infrastructure Plan, but the plan has now been published, and outlines four programmes that have the eventual aim of delivering world-class digital infrastructure by 2020.

  1. Achieving a step change by 2015: The aim is to provider faster broadband to areas by 2015 where the commercial sector has decided to not roll-out its faster services. The sort of speeds they are looking at is 40 Mbps to 80 Mbps for between 85% to 90% of premises, with the best possible speeds for those where this target is not possible.
  2. Achieving world-class by 2020: A longer term plan to continue the work improving broadband infrastructure to be amongst the best countries in the world. As a guide Sweden who are currently considered world-class are aiming at 40% with access to 100 Mbps by 2015 (UK will exceed this once the Virgin Media 120 Mbps roll-out completes), and 90% of homes and businesses to have access to a minimum of 100 Mbps by 2020.
  3. Demonstrating and delivering innovate and local solutions: Where possible local projects will be encouraged and the trialling of new technologies to help meet the targets.
  4. Increasing take-up and stimulating demand: The aim to ensure all those who want to participate in the e-economy are able to, and this will also help with the procurement strategy which as an aim of a return on investment to the public sector as well as the private sector.

Currently the sums of money excluding any private investment stack up as £68.8m from the BDUK, £79.5m from the Scottish Budget and £25.5m from the EU. Additional funding may be available in 2013 and onwards from the EU, and also Scotland is to lobby the BDUK and UK Government for extra funds from the central purse.

The project has a fairly tight deadline to actually have all the work done by 2015, and the timeline is such that a procurement strategy will be produced by March 2012, procurement starting in September and the contract awarded in the first half of 2013. Existing projects such as the Highlands and Islands Broadband Project, the South of Scotland Alliance and Aberdeen City and Shire Economic Future (ACSEF) will all be worked with to ensure the common national goals are met.

In terms of what sort of broadband people can expect the procurrement process is set to be technology neutral, utilising a mix of solutions to deliver a 40 Mbps to 80 Mbps to the 85% to 90% of properties. Interestingly there appears to be a caveat to these speeds "We recognise that a wide range of factors affect actual speeds at individual premises, and the 40 to 80 Mbps target is intended to signal the extent of the step change required, rather than being a precise measure.". Our interpretation of this is very non-technology neutral since it appears to support deployment of a FTTC solution, data from BT suggests that some 55% will manage 100 Mbps or faster (profile 17a plus vectoring), 25% getting 50 Mbps to 100 Mbps and around 20% receiving 10 Mbps to 50 Mbps.

The progress towards the 2020 goal will require more deployment of FTTP particularly in areas where FTTC is likely to not offer the best speeds, and with the BT Group pretty much being the only major provider in the running for the contract, hopefully it will use FTTP at an as early stage as possible.

Comments

Posted by opticalgirl over 2 years ago
Specifying 40-80Mbps is not being technology neutral - it's fixing the goal posts to make sure that one technology becomes the favourite.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 2 years ago
If a bidder proposes 100 Mbps for 85% of properties then I doubt they would turn it down, and if they did you may end up in a lengthy court battle if the bid met the various requirements.

40 to 80 as I suggested does sound very like FTTC, but nothing stopping someone exceeding that. Hence a procurement phase.
Posted by themanstan over 2 years ago
Yes, they're highly biasing the choice.
However, with a 2015 operational date for 80% premises and with less than £200m FTTP is out of the question.
Posted by opticalgirl over 2 years ago
Ah, but since money is limited, you always end up with the least expensive solution that meets the spec - so 100Mbps for 85% of properties rather than 80Mbps for 90% seems unlikely. It wouldn't be considered value for money.
Posted by themanstan over 2 years ago
£200m sounds a lot, but using B4RN costs, it's only 125,000 properties. Doubled for matched funding and that's 250,000 out of 2.5m homes in Scotland. But commercial roll-outs are more expensive so divide by 4 again.
Posted by camieabz over 2 years ago
@themanstan

Factor in the geographical (is that topographical?) issues of Scotland too. Islands to be supplied with wireless solutions, lots of low population land between cities etc.

Anyway, it's a benchmark, and with other Scottish issues looming, the progress will be monitored and I'm sure if lacking, criticism will be quick to appear.
Posted by themanstan over 2 years ago
@Camieabz

Absolutely, however i usually offer a best case scenario for funds used.
Which highlights how little is covered even under these "optimal" circumstances.
People's concept of the size of the investment needed is sadly lacking, yet the expectation is that the incumbent should saddle itself with crippling quantities of debt or should have been investing in the infrastructure previously even though the regulator had forbidden them from doing so...
Posted by scottie4642 over 2 years ago
In the part of South Ayrshire where I stay I am not able to get even 2Mbps!!
I am apparently mote than 2 miles from the Exchange.
There is a cable from Scotland to America which has been capable of delivering a signal for years!
Posted by clynderboy over 2 years ago
@Scottie4642

I am soooo envious! I DREAM of 2Mbps! In this part of Moray, (admittedly out in the sticks!) I am currently downloading at (wait for it!) 375Kbps! Yes, approximately one THIRD of a meg! I cannot imagine ANY provider laying a fibre-optic cable over the 5 miles from the exchange, so I guess I'm doomed!
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