Scottish broadband project declares more than 950,000 premises able to benefit from partial or full fibre
The Digital Scotland has always been slightly confusing in terms of referring to the number of premises that can now benefit from fibre broadband as a result of the project. To be clear they are using 'fibre broadband' as shorthand for a mixture of Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC) and Fibre to the Premises, where the FTTC service dominates.
The headline figure is that more than 950,000 premises have benefited from the £463 million programme in its seven years and this is 110,000 extra premises than originally expected.
I’m delighted that the programme has far exceeded its expected delivery target at the outset of and has gone on to provide better broadband technology to more than 950,000 homes and businesses all over Scotland - an amazing achievement. In the Scottish Borders alone, access to superfast broadband has also increased from 21% of premises in Jan 2014 to almost 88% now and, while we are putting in place investment to complete coverage, the progress made since 2014 is something that the DSSB team can be rightly proud of.
Having fast and reliable internet is absolutely vital to communities across the country. As we emerge from lockdown, it helps businesses stay connected with customers and colleagues, as well as helping families to stay in touch, learn, work, play and shop – over 65% of people who have fibre available to them have already signed up to receive services and that is more than double the take up that had been modelled.
That’s why it was fantastic to find out how Ridelines, an excellent local business, has been benefitting from the infrastructure, delivered as part of the DSSB programme, and that it has made such a difference to the day-to-day running of the business before and after Covid-19 and to the business’ owner and his family as well.Minister for Minister for Energy, Connectivity and the Islands, Paul Wheelhouse
In the past the fibre premises passed figure has usually aligned with our tracking of availability at speeds of 10 or 15 Mbps, but our latest figures don't neatly line up. This may be down to identifying some community led interventions or commercial Openreach FTTP roll-outs as being part of the programme, but as of the morning of 27th July 2020 the combined total of superfast (30 Mbps or better) delivered by Digital Scotland was 1,003,872 premises (152,465 premises in the Highlands and Islands and a further 851,467 spread across the rest of Scotland. In the Rest of Scotland our tracking will include properties that have gained via the commercial Virgin Media roll-out who while maybe had VDSL2 available but at sub superfast speeds, which further explains the higher figure.
The later phases of the Digital Scotland contract has involved more FTTP, 4% of premises in the Highlands and Islands area and in the Rest of Scotland it is as high as 15%. We don't believe that the project has delivered all that FTTP in the Rest of Scotland area, a chunk of this is going to be Fibre First roll-out or new build properties. If the BDUK frameworks were to continue in the same form we would go through the effort of identifying and excluding this additional FTTP properties.
The breakdowns of the Scottish councils and constituencies is available on our stats site and while the projects in Scotland have delivered a lot, the Orkney Islands are still languishing with 64.9% superfast coverage and the Shetland Islands is at 75.2%. Orkney while not doing well for Superfast coverage is still a lot better than the 11% we knew about in 2014. In terms speed tests seen at the end of Q2 2016 23% of tests were identified as FTTC based and jumping forward four years that rose to 45.7%.
The replacement for the BDUK contracts are three R100 contracts, but for the area of Scotland with the greatest need there is a legal dispute set to delay the roll-out of superfast services. The R100 contracts should also be almost exclusively FTTP based.