Broadband News

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.

5000th Digital Scotland VDSL2 cabinet
New cabinet ready to be revealed as 5,000th one funded via Digital Scotland

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.


Still better coverage in Borders compared with Dumfries and Galloway.

  • brianhe
  • 27 days ago

"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". I've never quite understood why that statistic even exists other than the purpose of artificially inflating the success/progress in the press. Is it not totally irrelevant that premises are connected to FTTC when that cabinet provides them with zero benefit?

  • craski
  • 27 days ago

Yet I live in the centre of Edinburgh and BT have neglected to convert my existing cabinet to FTTC.

  • csteinle
  • 27 days ago

What Craski said...

We've been saying four the the last four years that VDSL/VDSL2 was a waste of money and ADSLMax is still the only option for those in the rural Highlands on the wrong side of the "digital divide".

  • NorthSkye
  • 27 days ago

Saying FTTC was a waste of money is rather strong. Millions of users in the UK are getting much faster broadband that they would ever have received from an exchange ADSL based service. If they had gone straight for FTTP after the ADSL roll out millions of people would still be waiting for something better than an exchange based ADSL service. It was a cheap/cost effective stop gap. That not everyone benefits from the FTTC rollout does not make it a waste of money.

  • jabuzzard
  • 27 days ago

There is no record of what as actually spent on these 5,000 cabinets serving 936,000 customers. The BDUK spreadsheets say the contracts were for 722k premises, so if these were extra rural customers that would be good but it appears many were in Glasgow.

A separate tweet referenced 21,000 FTTP in-fill which is very small. It would be good to know how much of existing budget gets moved over to R100.

  • ValueforMoney
  • 27 days ago

What do you have against the undeserved and unviable in urban areas, VFM?

Perhaps they were better value for money?

  • CarlThomas
  • 27 days ago

I’ve gained and suffered with the rollout of FTTC. We’re now able to get superfast fibre at the amazing top speed of 8mb download and 0.25mb upload.. due to the distance to our cabinet..which in all fairness is crap.. however it still beats the original adsl speed we had of 1mb down.... i’m wondering what will happen when the universal obligation kicks in? and will they look at underperforming super fast fibre connections too?Vodafone are a good isp as they discount our line every month due to their speed guarantee. Just wish more isps offered this so we could shop around in future.

  • cen8wfw
  • 27 days ago

If your connection speeds are below 10 Mbps for down or below 1 Mbps for up then you will count for USO help

You may have signed up to something that is called superfast fibre, but in superfast calculations your line won't count.

  • andrew
  • thinkbroadband staff
  • 27 days ago

Laughs.....alreasy tested and Failed ..... had it installed at radford green but no signal or connection to exchsnge!!

  • grassden
  • 26 days ago

Carl T - The magic of the market dear boy and competition and BT's £2.5bn commercial investment was to solve urban!. BT's 49,000 first pass cabinets was creditied with £1.3bn of costs by Ofcom in 2017 WLA review.

  • ValueforMoney
  • 25 days ago

If the commercial was to solve urban then it should have covered 80% of UK once combined with Virgin Media but commercial was going to only reach around 2/3rds and that was NOT a uniform two thirds across all local authorities.

Perhaps BDUK process if it really was just a rural project should have had that written in as a legal requirement and defined how rural would be measured too. Outside in is tried now via LFFN so lets see where that is in 9 more years.

  • andrew
  • thinkbroadband staff
  • 25 days ago

Some of us in Scotland don’t be enough get 2 Mbps and as far as I can see there are no signs of this improving

  • lcman
  • 20 days ago

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