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Scotland passes the 85% fibre based target on time
Monday 04 January 2016 11:43:13 by Andrew Ferguson

Government procurement is littered with projects that overrun their budgets and deadlines, but the Digital Scotland project has done something that will upset a lot of people and delivered what was promised and on time. The goal for Scotland was 85% of premises with the option of a fibre based broadband connection by the end of 2015, and moving forward this is to rise to 95% for 2017.

As things stand based on our analysis of 3rd January 2016 Scotland has a fibre based solution (FTTC or cable broadband) available to 85.8% of premises and our model calculates that this is 81% at 30 Mbps or faster (81.8% at 24 Mbps or faster). There is some FTTH in Scotland, but this is some flats in Glasgow by Hyperoptic that is not included in our figures (yet) and some flats re-purposed after the Commonwealth Games.

Superfast Broadband Coverage levels in Scotland
A grey scale version of the above map is also available
The good and bad constituencies for superfast broadband in Scotland

The above constituency level map shows that coverage is far from uniform, but when you consider that the constituencies are usually a population of around 50,000 it soon becomes clear how few people live in some parts of Scotland. A large amount of Exchange Only lines have been converted with new cabinets to provider FTTC supplied but as with the rest of the UK those missing out are keen to find out if and when they will benefit from the upgrades, i.e. FTTC while very fast to roll-out compared to FTTH is still not appearing fast enough for those still stuck on up to 7 Mbps ADSL services.

Listing all fifty nine constituencies that cover Scotland would be very long table, but Glasgow North leads the pack with fibre coverage of 98.3% (98.2% over 30 Mbps) and Na h-Eileanan an Iar (Western Isles) is at the bottom 39.7% fibre based (25.4% over 30 Mbps) and back in June 2015 was big massive zero percentage of premises covered.

The arguments over why more FTTH has not been deployed and whether VDSL2 is future proof will now be debated, but one often overlooked aspect is that while VDSL2 as a standard may fall by the wayside, the fibre infrastructure feeding the many thousands of cabinets deployed has the spare fibres and hardware ready to support an eventual GPON FTTH roll-out, no timetable has been set but the option to upgrade the roll-out is there, all it needs is major shareholders in BT to decide its worthwhile return on investment or for the public purse to place the ability to stream 4K TV above other priorities, like health and flood defences.


Posted by JoyD 10 months ago
Sadly this has been delivered at a cost to the remaining 15% in Scotland .. some of whom are getting speeds of 0.3 Mgps (yes that decimal point is in the right place, I really do mean nought point three) but still being charged for "up to 20Mgps". Another issue is that many of the 85% actually cannot afford to pay the cost of the fibre based broadband as it is so much more expensive
Posted by chilting 10 months ago
I see no problem with the 85% paying more for a better service. It balances out the public investment with a personal contribution for those who will get the direct benefit.

I take your point about the 15%. What is needed, however, is for Fixed Wireless networks to fill the gap for most of the rest of the 15%. Don't let the authorities fob you of with satellite broadband.
Posted by TheGuv 10 months ago
The Digital Scotland project has been superb. I have been one of those waiting and monitored progress waiting for my area to be upgraded.

The website and comms that they do have been good. Cabinets with Digital Scotland info on them to gain attraction and let people know about new services are also good.

Not everyone will be happy so I appreciate i might be in a majority. :-)
Posted by craski 10 months ago
It is great to see the 85% target reached but being in the final 15% I have to disagree that Digital Scotland communication has been good. "Exploring Solutions" is as much as they tell us.
Posted by andyjstew 10 months ago
I recommend this if you too are lacking fibre!

* Email the Heads of ALL BT group businesses.
* Contact All local MP's, MEP's, MSP's
* Contact the head of the digital project for your region
* Open executive level complaints with BT
* Contact your preferred supplier CEO and they too will push Openreach

In the end i finally managed to force their hand by providing all of the above party's with documented evidence that BT were avoiding enabling Glasgow's east end due to being deemed as a poverty area.

After this evidence was submitted the exchanges were all enabled with 2 weeks!
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) 10 months ago
If fibre cabinets appeared within 2 weeks that suggests they were already planned, since for cabinets to go live needs power supplied by the local power company which takes a number of weeks to order.
Posted by jabuzzard 10 months ago
One of the recommendations regarding flooding is to make the UK's infrastructure more flood resilient. One could argue that FTTP is inherently more flood resilient than FTTC with expensive cabinets under water.

For much of rural Scotland FTTP is the only realistic solution as well, the topography makes wireless with it's inherent limitations over FTTP a waste of time.
Posted by andyjstew 10 months ago
The issue was that they had installed the Fibre cabinets over a year and a half ago now and they initially planned the activation for about 2 months after the cabinets were installed but they kept pushing the date back and back, the last check i done before they finally did it stated that they were not planned until March 2016.
Posted by nmg196 10 months ago
@jabuzzard I don't think FTTP is any more resilient to flooding is it? In both cases the cables are waterproof and both systems need complex electrical cabinets which both would fail when flooded. In fact I think the exact same cabinets are used - I don't think there's a separate FTTP cabinet.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) 10 months ago
FTTP if GPON has the electrics in the home or the exchange building, if those stay dry and powered it will work.

Openreach FTTP is passive in the street and does not use the green cabinets at all.

Point to Point FTTP can sometimes have cabinets in the middle of nowhere but often less of them than for FTTC, so may be easier to keep them dry and powered.

VDSL cabs can be submerged to a depth of 1 foot with no problems.

What will affect both is silt etc blocking ducting.
Posted by chilting 10 months ago
There is little point contacting BT in the areas that are covered by Digital Scotland. It is Digital Scotland who are commissioning the work in these areas, BT Openreach is the contractor. I think that we must give credit to BT Openreach for the success of this project.
Residents who have not benefited should be pressing Digital Scotland and their MP's for further upgrades just as those of us in the rest of the UK should be pressing BDUK and our MP's.
Posted by alexdow 10 months ago
I would remind everyone that this figure of "85% of premises" is NOT 85% of (potential) Users.

The last figure I recollect for Actual Upgrades (UK), late in 2015, was 29%.

Call it 30% both for ease of calculation and to allow for a few more upgrades.

So on that basis, only 25.5% approximately have chosen to UPGRADE.

That figure ties in reasonably well with my local FTTC, now active for 21 months, at a maximum of 96 Filter Links on a Back Plane for 288; and the PCP with around that 288 figure of D-Side Lines.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) 10 months ago
@alsexdow That is why we run the speed test results alongside on the so you can see the link between the roll-outs and speeds starting to pick up as people use the service.

We could go the Aus NBN route and shut down old networks to force people across but that would be blocked legally due to level of competition in the UK.
Posted by craski 10 months ago
In the remaining 15%, I would be surprised if the take-up wasnt higher than average given that a large amount of that 15% will have very slow ADSL connections at best. It is understandable in areas that had good ADSL connections >10Mbps that a lot of people will stick with what they have being "good enough".
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) 10 months ago
10 Mbps cannot be good enough, we all need Gigabit and we all need it yesterday so I keep being beaten up about.
Posted by alexdow 10 months ago
And also why it is interesting to see the results displayed on the "Broadband Map", which also generally seem to point to a similar low level of upgrades.
Posted by alexdow 10 months ago
With the remaining 15% non-availability, one way I agree that the upgrades within that group may be higher than average - but aren't those areas the ones generally most difficult to serve, probably with longer D-Sides, whether due to fewer PCPs or being EOs?

Only Time will Tell!
Posted by Somerset 10 months ago
@alexdow - 'I would remind everyone that this figure of "85% of premises" is NOT 85% of (potential) Users'

How would you discover the number of users in a property?
Posted by chilting 10 months ago
One possible solution for the final 15% would be 4G.
Digital Scotland could get together with one of the mobile companies to jointly fund a 4G network with affordable broadband being the payoff for the broadband customers in return for the public funding.
The network would off course only be practical is less populated areas but off course these are the areas that would tend to missed by the fixed line and mobile companies.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) 10 months ago
@chilting When you are looking at population densities as low as 9 people per sq KM even 4G/wireless can work out costly in terms of mast costs, backhaul, power.
Posted by chilting 10 months ago
Granted, but it may be the least costly option.
The end result is one network that provide mobile, phone and superfast broadband coverage - even the fixed line phone could be redundant.
Posted by alexdow 10 months ago

You are correct, I possibly should have said "premises that are actually connected."

Thank you.
Posted by RuralWire 10 months ago
@andrew + @chilting - A 4G voice and data network is not necessarily as far-fetched as it might seem in light of the recent signing of the emergency services contract between the Government and EE. EE will be required to provide a network with national coverage. Surely, a joined-up approach by the Home Office, DCMS, BT and EE is not impossible?
Posted by dgmckenzie 10 months ago
Problem is that map does not take into account those in a fibred area who cannot connect due to being connected directly to an exchange.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) 10 months ago
@dgmckenzie The map does take this into account, e.g.

We work to the postcode level, so even 1 postcode surrounded by fibre enabled postcodes will not count towards the total.
Posted by lcman 10 months ago
Faster and faster for some whilst some of us get speeds below 2 Mbps and little or no hope of even getting that.

In my case coupled with the fact that heavy rain/hail/snow results in a further speed drop and IP profile sticking

Yest as has been said we pay the same price as those with 20Meg+

Quite frankly it is a disgrace
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