5,000 little green cabinets supplying VDSL2 live via Digital Scotland
The shift from VDSL2 (partial fibre) to fibre to the premises (full fibre) continues but the time involved in planning and delivery means people will still see some VDSL2 cabinets appearing across the UK for probably a year but today sees a cheerful Minister in front of a VDSL2 outside the Borthwickbrae exchange.
The lines connected to this cabinet were prior to the arrival of the cabinet exchange only lines, and the small white building with the large vent is actually the local telephone exchange which is smaller than the average bungalow, but bigger than a garden shed. We saw cabinet 4 live in June 2019 and cabinet 2 on the same exchange but a long away was spotted live in August.
The Digital Scotland roll-out gets a mixture of responses, those who benefit are generally happy to have seen an improvement after years of just ADSL speeds for many of them and a growing number are starting to be really happy as they see full fibre appear. The anger tends to come from those who have yet to see any change or those frustrated by some of the communications i.e. their green street cabinet now has VDSL2 but they live so far away from it that there is little or no speed benefit.
The Borders is the council area Borthwickbrae falls within and superfast coverage (30 Mbps and faster) at 85.3% is well below the overall Scottish figure of 93.8% but has grown massively when you consider it was just 12.5% back at the end of 2012. The full fibre coverage in the area is growing and while 2.4% is low almost all of this is via the gap funded Digital Scotland project.
The deployment of more than 5000 street cabinets shows the extent and scale of this nation-wide engineering programme.
In the five years that it’s been operational, more than 936,000 homes and business have been reached across Scotland. Hundreds of small towns and communities, just like Borthwickbrae, have seen the boost which fibre broadband brings and the benefits it generates for businesses, community groups, organisations and individuals.
Digital technology is at the forefront of today's society. Superfast broadband can help transform businesses by enabling them to stay connected with customers and colleagues. It has a positive impact, where fast, reliable connections enable everyone to learn, work, play and shop, all in the comfort of their own home.Connectivity Minister, Paul Wheelhouse
The press release talks of 97.5% of Scotland having access to fibre broadband but this is only the case if you ignore the distance drop off from VDSL2, once you take that into account the percentage able to get over 15 Mbps is 95.6% and 30 Mbps and faster sees this drop to 93.8%. In the Borders area this gap between fibre broadband and superfast is much larger a change from 95.2% to 85.3%.
What everyone now awaits is a picture of the contract signing (or maybe multiple signings) for the R100 contract and then the detail of how far the full fibre project will go and what the timescale will be. Even if R100 is signed later today it is highly likely the first live structures would not appear for another 12 months and that makes the original 2021 deadline pretty much impossible without some shifting of the goal posts.