£17.8 million of reinvestment to connect another 6,000 premises in Scotland
The early release of gainshare money by BT is apparently behind the next micro project for Scotland that will see another 6,000 premises receive a significant boost in what is available to them broadband speed wise.
For those not aware the original BDUK contracts across the United Kingdom included clauses that as take-up increases and areas reached or passed what would be considered a commercially viable level of take-up that money would be returned to the devolved administration or local authority involved. In the case of Scotland it appears that the period for gainshare to be released was 10 years but take-up has climbed rapidly and BT has been triggering the various gainshare clauses. BT is not allowed to just recycle this money itself and relies on direction from the local authority/administration on what to do and therefore we find ourselves talking of another £17.8 million of reinvestment in Scotland.
The £17.8 million is going to buy improved broadband availability for some 6,000 premises and most of these are going to be via fibre to the premises. At this stage we hope that no new VDSL2 cabinets will actually be considered unless the economics of full fibre are massively higher than the cost of VDSL2.
I am delighted that thanks to higher than expected uptake of services on infrastructure funded by the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband programme, even more premises will now receive fast, reliable broadband.
The programme has not only delivered on time and on budget, but has exceeded its original aim of connecting 95% of Scotland to fibre broadband. More and more communities will now have the opportunity to benefit from investment in reliable and speedy broadband services.Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity Michael Matheson
This is the second set of reinvestment as £15.7 million was announced in March 2017. The Cabinet Secretary does talk of 95% fibre coverage, which will needs some explaining, since there is no where near 95% full fibre coverage in any single local authority in Scotland, partial fibre coverage i.e. VDSL2 or FTTP is currently at 97.5%. The Scottish use of the word 'fibre' in its broadband releases has always been confusing and history has suggested that they are using it in the sense of connectivity via something that is not ADSL/ADSL2+ and is delivering broadband speeds higher than somewhere in the 10 to 15 Mbps region. In plain superfast figures Scotland is at 94.2% or 93.7% if you use the 30 Mbps baseline rather than the over 24 Mbps definition.
There is a lot of variation across Scotland with Orkney being the worst council area at just 67.7% superfast coverage (the woolly 'fibre' definition gives a much higher figure in the region of 75% to 82% depending on your exact definition. The BT/Digital Scotland was split into two areas with the Highlands and Islands Enterprise area figures showing superfast coverage of 81.5% and is still climbing slowly each month.
No news on which premises will benefit but 6,000 premises is just 0.2% so the impact on the figures across Scotland will be minimal but massively important for those affected. The work from BT via Openreach was expected to end soon but with this extension delivery is set to continue into 2020 and we presume the R100 contracts will see their footprint adjusted accordingly.