Broadband News

Fife to invest £150,000 in alternate ways of covering superfast not-spots

The fate of the final few thousand in every council area across the UK is a hot topic in the mail bags and inboxes bags of the many elected representatives across the UK and we have learnt that Fife council is committing another £150,000 into the superfast broadband battle to extend coverage to the 2,800 premises in the region that are not expected to see superfast broadband from the existing Digital Scotland projects.

The money it appears is to be spent extending coverage and provide additional funding for Wi-Fi (we presume fixed wireless is what was meant), and while £150,000 will help to get some pilots off the ground at £53.50 per premise it is not going to deliver Fibre to the Home that many would like. Of course commercial partners will be expected to add to the pot as may the Scottish Parliament if applications for further funding get approved.

"Question S4O-04199: Roderick Campbell, North East Fife, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 25/03/2015
To ask the Scottish Government what progress is being made on improving broadband connectivity where there are exchange-only connections.

Answered by John Swinney (01/04/2015):

The Scottish Government and its partners are investing over £410 million in the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband programme which, alongside commercial rollout, will deliver fibre broadband to 95% of Scottish premises by the end of 2017. Coverage in Fife is expected to be 98.4%, one of the highest local authority coverage levels.

The provision of fibre broadband to premises served by exchange-only lines is a routine part of programme deployment. As a result of our programme, to date, over 45,000 more premises in Fife are now able to access fibre broadband services and significant proportion of these are former exchange-only premises."

There is also the problem with the presumption that it will be just 1.6% that need helping and part of this is down to confusion over the various targets employed by the projects, 98.4% fibre based coverage does not equal 98.4% superfast coverage if FTTC is the dominant technology, it is possible but looks unlikely and we estimate that unless FTTP is used for the sub-superfast premises on enabled cabinets or extra infill cabs are deployed the deliver is likely to be 95% at superfast broadband speeds of 24 Mbps or faster. This transforms the total needing help from 2,800 to around 8,800 premises and is precisely why we continue to track the coverage levels so that these disparities can be highlighted.

thinkbroadband calculation of Superfast, USC and Fibre Broadband Coverage across constituences that comprise Fife
figures as of 28th October 2015
Area % fibre based % superfast
24 Mbps or faster
% superfast
30 Mbps or faster
% cable % Under 2 Mbps USC % Under 5 Mbps USO % Under 15 Mbps
Fife (Overall) 85% 82.1% 81.2% 30.9% 0.9% 3.7% 8.8%
Glenrothes 86.9% 85.8% 85.2% 69.8% 0.3% 3.4% 7.1%
Dunfermline & West Fife 91.5% 88.3% 87.1% 0% 1.2% 3.2% 5.9%
Kirkcaldy & Cowdenbeath 87.6% 86.8% 86.4% 0.1% 1.1% 3.3% 17.4%
North East Fife 71.3% 64.1% 62.4% 5.4% 2% 8% 21.2%

As our coverage data reveals even within Fife the coverage across the four constituencies is not consistent with North East Fife having the largest gap between fibre availability and actually getting a superfast broadband service. North East Fife is at least improving with superfast coverage having grown from 52.3% to 62.4% in 2015 so far and we only started to see FTTC type speed tests in Q2/2014 in that constituency.


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