Superfast Broadband Reaches 1.9m Scottish Homes And Businesses

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BDUK reaches 500,000 milestone in Scotland as total figure nears 2m – including Gretna Green

Almost two million properties in Scotland can now receive superfast broadband via the Openreach network

The Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) funded Digital Scotland partnership has now connected 500,000 premises that would not have otherwise been covered by commercial deployments. The Scottish government says more than 2,200 cabinet have been built and 5,000km of fibre laid so far.

One of the latest cabinets to be switched on was in Gretna Green, meaning any would-be elopers will have to contend with rogue Facebook and Twitter posts if their marriage is to remain a secret.

Digital Scotland expects to reach 750,000 homes and businesses by March 2018, covering 95 percent of the country.

Scottish broadband rollout

“The start of 2016 marks a real high point in our progress towards ensuring world-class digital connectivity for Scotland by 2020,” said Keith Brown, Scottish Infrastructure Secretary. “Our fibre infrastructure is growing rapidly and on average each week the programme reaches another 7,000 premises.

“Today’s milestone is fantastic news for the 500,000 households and businesses across Scotland which would simply not have seen the benefits of high speed, high quality digital connectivity without the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband programme. It is among the most ambitious broadband infrastructure projects ever undertaken.”

The £410 million rollout comprises two separate initiatives – one covering the Highlands and Islands and another serving the rest of Scotland. As with other devolved and local authorities, the Scottish government has had to match any funding received from central government via BDUK. BT is contributing £126 million, while the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) is also supporting the rollout.

Scotland has been one of the more difficult BDUK projects due to its terrain and islands, but will benefit from £17.9 million returned by BT after takeup projections exceeded those estimated in the original business case. Part of this will go towards a £9 million community broadband pot for areas not covered by BDUK.

BDUK progress

Mull ScotlandAcross the UK, 3.5 million premises have been connected by BDUK, a figure expected to rise to 4 million by the spring. The eventual target is 95 percent coverage by 2017, and the government has said all properties were now guaranteed speeds of at least 2Mbps thanks to a subsidised satellite broadband initiative for which an estimated 300,000 premises are eligible for.

A consultation on a proposed 10Mbps universal service obligation will start in early 2016 and Prime Minister David Cameron has suggested a 2020 deadline for that particular promise, but it is unclear at this stage what public support will be available. BT has said it would be a willing partner should any funding become available. Virgin Media objects to any extension of BDUK.

BDUK has been criticised for a number of factors, including the speed of rollout, an alleged lack of transparency and that handing BT so much public money is in effect a public subsidy. Both the government and BT have continually defended their progress.

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