While Scotland has an ambition to have 100% superfast broadband coverage by 2021, for those without decent broadband today 2021 will seem a long way away. This is why the news today that a mixture of cost saving and gainshare benefits from the existing contract that Highlands and Islands Enterprise has with BT is to see some £2.3m re-invested into the project will be welcome news. It is estimated that 6,000 premises will benefit (we believe this equates to around 2.8% of premises in the HIE area).
Good levels of take-up and efficient delivery of the contract have allowed us to re-invest in the project, extending the coverage in Highlands and Islands further again.
Superfast broadband is now available to order in 200 towns and villages which would not have been reached without the public investment. By the time we are finished in 2017 there will be even more. Shetland, Orkney, the Outer Hebrides, Highland, Moray and Argyll and Bute will all see some of the fibre routes extended. In addition, four areas which were not initially in the roll-out will see some coverage – Duntulm and Sligachan in Skye; Sandness in Shetland; and Scarista in the Western Isles."Charlotte Wright, Chief Executive at HIE
The existing contract with BT is still delivering and our tracking as of 27th October indicated 79.9% of premises with a VDSL2 option at any speed and 0.02% with a native FTTP option. Once you take into account line length estimates this equates to 67.37% with access to faster than 24 Mbps (or 65.26% with a 30 Mbps or faster option). The pace of change is such that 12 months ago that at 30 Mbps and faster the figure was 58.2%, and just 32.9% two years ago. Of course a fast roll-out is worthless if you are one of those yet to benefit, but we are certainly seeing increasing numbers of small towns and exchange only exchanges benefiting from one or more VDSL2 cabinets.
BT Scotland is indicating that it hopes to include these new premises in the 2017 roll-out. Beyond the current contract, there is expected to be an Open Market Review to identify a new intervention area for subsequent projects that form the thrust towards the 100% coverage in 2021.