Broadband News

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.


He won't depart unless it is to bigger things or an election failure. Like all politicians he will blame the suppliers for not delivering.

  • jumpmum
  • 26 days ago

Obviously not holding my breath for full R100 coverage. May 2021 is when the next Scottish Parliamentary elections take place.

  • brianhe
  • 26 days ago

You can in general fix the new homes issue by making it compulsory, or at the least very difficult to build a new home without access to 30Mbps. The only exception should be for homes that would be attached to an exchange that does not offer FTTPoD. This is going to be a very small number of new builds, and probably in places that would be excluded from R100 anyway. Basically stuff in the middle of nowhere.

  • jabuzzard
  • 25 days ago

Having access to FTTPoD is nothing to do with new homes not having access to 30 Mbps, i.e. plenty of areas with native FTTP where the VDSL2 cabinets don't have FTTP on Demand. Remember too ability to order FoD is based on being connected via a VDSL2 enabled PCP currently.

As for the middle of nowhere comment, most new build in Scotland is in the urban central belt.

  • andrew
  • thinkbroadband staff
  • 25 days ago

Many of the people (outside the R100 team) who deal with this think that the money available is about one-half of what is needed for close to full FTTP coverage. In practice up to a third of premises are likely to be covered by either mobile broadband (EE working with BT) or satellite (especially if Oneweb gets its service going in time). Since the Emergency Services Network project is not going well, there is likely to be a desperate rush to build masts and extend mobile broadband coverage in 2021-22.As others note, Ewing won't be in his job at the end of R100 irrespective of this promise.

  • gah789
  • 24 days ago

So are the hockey stick predictions of years ago that full fibre is expensive to deliver the more rural you go.

  • andrew
  • thinkbroadband staff
  • 24 days ago

The point about FTTPoD is that it means the builder has the option if FTTC is not going to give 30Mbps to provide that speed even if it is a one off build. As opposed to an estate. There are a lot of exchanges in Scotland where they are still on 2Mbps ADSL at them moment, no prospect of 4G, and believe it or not geography makes even satellite next to impossible. The Highlands are very distinctly not flat. Sure most build is central belt, but this is not R99.999 but R100 ;-)

  • jabuzzard
  • 23 days ago

@jabuzzard There are rumours that SGovt will do so or at the very least incentivise Councils to do so in the very near future.

@gah789 Why do you think Ewing wont be in his job (by) 2021?

  • brusuth
  • 21 days ago

IT won't happen. These all are false promises made by a politician. All are same. they know very well how to manipulate people and how to play with their emotions. They are not like <a href="">netgear router support usa</a>, who always fulfill their promise.

  • joe9804
  • 13 days ago

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