The reality of the original 2015 superfast coverage target of 90% of UK premises which is now a 2017 target of 95% of homes having the option of a superfast broadband connection is of little comfort to those on the smallest exchanges in the UK.
The people or Orton, Moray may have seen the first Scottish gap funded FTTC service going live in Buckie and be wondering when this will reach them. The Northern Scot talks to one resident of Orton and there will be a local meeting on Monday 24th people in the area where people will meet with the BT Scotland director and Stewart Robertson from the Highlands and Islands Enterprise.
We suspect this meeting will have some soothing words and talk of planning and uncertainty on exactly which areas will be enabled yet via the project, but looking at the area from a cold outside perspective, we must say that Orton looks very like it will be in the 5% of Scotland that still does not have superfast broadband by the end of 2017.
The Orton exchange is somewhere in the IV32 7QE postcode, and our estimate is that it serves just seven postcodes (IV32 7QG, IV32 7QF, IV32 7QQ, IV32 7QE, IV32 7QD, IV32 7QB, and IV32 7QH) with around 47 premises (locals suggest 71 broadband customers, so obviously our boundary for the exchange is missing some properties). Certainly the spread out nature of the premises means that FTTC is unsuited to the exchange, and the geographic spread would also make FTTP expensive.
The exchange last saw an upgrade in 2010 which was probably a transition from the old 0.5 Mbps only service to a rate adaptive up to 8 Mbps product, though the one speed test we have for the area still looks to be a 0.5 Mbps fixed speed service. It is possible a retail provider (BT in this case) has never upgraded the consumer to a Max product.
With the number of homes in Scotland around 2.37 million, a 95% target actually still leaves 118,500 homes without superfast broadband, hence why we suspect Orton is going to in that final 5%. If the fifty or properties were within a small cluster then we would hold out hope, but for now the only hope would look to be fixed wireless, 4G or satellite internet which should already be available.
Alternatively residents could adopt the DIY approach as a number of communities have done in the more rural parts of the UK where they have grown tired of promises that never seem to materialise.