Milestones are generally good news and with Scotland now having more than one million properties able to access a fibre based broadband connection using the Openreach FTTC network (a wee bit of FTTP also) there has to some cause for celebration.
"Today marks a high point in Scotland’s development as one of Europe’s leading nations for high-speed communications. Scotland’s fibre infrastructure is growing rapidly, with another 400,000 premises to be passed before our commercial programme is complete.
But with one of the most ambitious fibre partnerships in Europe under way to extend this high-speed technology into the places that the market alone won’t reach, the biggest challenge is yet to come.
Fibre investment in Scotland is not just about kilometres of cable in the ground but about our economic and social capabilities as a country. We’ve recruited around 150 new engineers in recent months as our roll-out gains momentum and we’re proud to be at the heart of Scotland, delivering the digital fabric of the nation."Brendan Dick, BT Scotland director
For the avoidance of doubt this does not mean 1 million have actually ordered the service, but that 1 million properties are connected to a cabinet which has a FTTC twin and if they choose to upgrade they can. The press release is not totally clear, so we have double checked with BT and the 1 million is just those cabinets in the commercial roll-out. The current roll-out is spread out as follows 330,000 premises in Glasgow and the West, 190,000 in Edinburgh and the Lothians, 120,000 in the South, 100,000 in Aberdeen and the North East and Tayside and Fife at the bottom with 93,000 premises.
Correction: We made a mistake on sourcing the number of households in Scotland, the Shelter figure was not all types of housing, a better figure is 2.37 million in mid 2011. This means the Openreach figure of 1 million premises is around 42% of households, and as the FTTC coverage does not totally match the Virgin Media cable footprint the option to buy a commercial fibre based service will be available to a larger percentage. This correction from 1.5 million to 2.37 million does not affect other statistics in the article, to give people an idea of the size of Virgin Media footprint our data suggests it is available to some 850,000 premises.
The current aim in Scotland is for 85% of the nation to have access to a fibre based broadband service by the end of 2015, increasing to 95% by the end of 2017. NOTE: The Scottish figures refer to any speed on a fibre based service, and not those who can get faster than 24 Mbps. By looking at ADSL coverage, as well as Virgin Media cable coverage if every PSTN cabinet was given a fibre twin in Scotland we believe that around 4% of premises would end up with speeds of under 2 Mbps. Our best guess using the same criteria is that around 83% will get superfast type speeds, one interesting thing we found is that that almost three quarters of the exchange only lines are in a Virgin Media postcode. Of course that is no comfort to people on the numerous small exchanges in Scotland where EO is used a lot.
For those in Scotland reading this and who know they have an Exchange Only telephone line and are outside the Virgin Media footprint, there is hope as in other parts of the UK the various broadband projects are starting to address the larger clusters of exchange only lines.