The Digital Scotland project in announcing the formal declaration of hitting the 85% milestone has just scrapped into a during 2015 deadline as the financial year still has a couple of weeks to run. Oddly though our own analysis spotted the project gliding through the 85% fibre based coverage target three months ago, the delay may be partly down to the time to get a PR event arranged and signed off and also by delaying until now the coverage is such that the project is almost at 85% superfast coverage (83.6% at 24 Mbps or faster) rather than the lesser 'fibre based' target which also includes long VDSL2 lines only getting 2 to 3 Mbps from the upgrade.
In the BT press release the cabinet featured is cabinet 24 on the Edinburgh Dean exchange and it is has literally just gone live, picking an urban cabinet may seem an odd choice, but we have been seeing cabinets like this going live in the more populated areas of Scotland, but to highlight this in the announcement may cause a revolt in the Highlands who are well behind in terms of coverage compared to the heavily populated belt that comprise Glasgow, Edinburgh and linking conurbations. Our checking also revealed cabinet 24 is also pretty much encircled by Virgin Media coverage too.
The image above is our preferred map showing the level of superfast coverage, but for the curious here is the same map but with the range limitations of VDSL2 turned off, i.e. what would be called 'fibre based'. For those who feel like nothing has changed in Scotland, which will of course be a fact for those yet to helped, a peek at the picture in March 2015 shows the scale of change between then and 12 months later (grey scale image for those who don't like the red/yellow/green scale).
There has always been some doubt about how the Scottish project is defining things, and it is possible that they may be excluding VDSL2 lines under a certain speed threshold from their 'fibre based' total and a bit of fiddling with our figures suggests this is very likely as eliminating lines under 15 Mbps seems to land us just below the 85% target or just above if we use a 10 Mbps threshold.
What does the future hold for Scotland, well the project is aiming for a 95% target by March 2018 (sometimes said to be the end of 2017), so this means coverage growing by 5% a year, which is slower than the rate achieved so far but that is to be expected as you reach the more rural areas. There is political talk of 100% superfast, but we will have to see what the talk actually translates into.
Scotland has suffered from exchange only lines in the past and we have seen many exchanges that had no cabinets gain a one or more cabinets to serve them with VDSL2, often with one outside the exchange and others strategically located to cover other premises. So for those still stuck on an old up to 8 Mbps ADSL service there may be some hope, and do check to see if WBC ADSL2+ has suddenly appeared at an exchange even if you cannot get VDSL2 since the way the BT Wholesale ADSL2+ DLM operates is preferable to the old IPStream system and generally has much better capacity at peak times.