Scottish Minister bets job on reaching R100 target by 2021
It is not clear if Scottish Rural Economy Secretary, Fergus Ewing is looking for an early retirement from his post or knows a lot more about what the bidders in the R100 project in Scotland are going to achieve.
In a speech at the Scottish Land & Estates Conference and reported by Herald Scotland and subsequently spotted by Mark over at ISPreview the following was said:
If I don’t deliver this by 2021, I think it will be time for Fergus Ewing to depart and do something else, and leave the job to somebody else. But I can assure you, we’re on the case.Scottish Rural Economy Secretary, Fergus Ewing
The public see by 2021 and think 1st January 2021 but the reality when its business or politics is that 31st December 2021 is what is usually meant and therefore there are 3.5 years to go.
The speech also has the usual dig at Westminster over the levels of funding Scotland has received, but it should be highlighted as we did when we looked at the R100 back in December that with the three lots having an gap funding level of £5,097 per property in the Southern lot, £3.867 in the Northern lot and the Central lot £1,549. The size of the three lots back then was 178,948 premises with a total project fund of £600m. This is well above the funding levels of any other broadband project in the UK where generally funding is capped at around the £1,700 per premises level and that sort of funding does deliver full fibre. Given the size of the funding theoretically available if the lot winners do not deliver the majority of connections using full fibre then serious investigations will need to be undertaken into the actual costs of services.
The R100 project is believed to exclude some urban areas such as Glasgow where commercial operators are expected to deliver 100% superfast coverage, but gambling your job on that is a big risk given that while coverage levels are generally very good in the two main Scottish cities of Edinburgh and Glasgow those in the gaps are not going to let things slide by.
Overall our latest figures suggest that to deliver 100% superfast (30 Mbps and faster) broadband in Scotland would need another 175,415 premises, so the size of the R100 project scope looks reasonable. This is course if no-one builds any new homes in Scotland, In 2017 we saw 11,026 new premises (85% superfast) across Scotland, 2016 had 13,081 premises (80% superfast), 2015 had 13,815 premises (85.6% superfast), 2014 was 12,543 premises (87.2% superfast). Therefore if the trend of building new homes and 10 to 20% not having superfast access continues in three years time there may be another 4,000 to 8,000 premises needing help to reach the R100 target (i.e. 10 to 20% of 40,000 new premises in the time period).
By 2021 it is also safe to say that deploying superfast satellite broadband is not going to be overly useful for the hardest to reach premises, unless low earth orbit constellations are in place which would mean much lower latency and possibly more bandwidth to be shared.