Welcome to the latest edition of ‘In the Loop’
As the Scottish Government’s Connectivity Minister, I am delighted to announce real progress in delivering our £600 million Reaching 100% (R100) programme, with the award of contracts in the South and Central lot areas to BT.
The R100 programme will ensure that all premises across Scotland can have access to superfast speeds by 2021.
The R100 contracts will deliver £133 million of public sector investment in the South lot area and an £83 million investment in the Central lot area.
In the South lot, we will directly reach over 99% of the 26,000 eligible premises that either do not already have a superfast service or that will not be provided with one by known commercial investments. This will mean that a remainder of approximately 200 premises across the whole of the south of Scotland will need additional help, outwith the main R100 procurement.
In the Central lot, we know that, of the 55,000 premises that are eligible for public investment, R100 will reach at least 47,000, or almost 87%, of them. The remaining premises in the Central lot will require to be connected by alternative means, which I set out below.
I am also delighted to report that all of the planned R100 build in the South of Scotland, and the vast majority of R100 build in Central Scotland, will use full-fibre, or ‘Fibre-to-the-Premises’ (FTTP), technology. This technology is the current ‘gold standard’ and will provide access to gigabit capable speeds, or, in other words, speeds of up to 1,000 Megabits per second.
Unfortunately the contract award for the North lot, for which we have committed £384 million, is now subject to a legal challenge from one of the bidders, Gigaclear Limited. While any consequent delay is frustrating, until that challenge is heard and resolved, we are unable to award the contract as had been planned.
However, in the meantime, we will provide additional support to ensure that everyone can have access to superfast broadband services by the end of 2021 – with grant funding delivered through a national demand-led voucher scheme funded by the Scottish Government.
Any properties, including in the North lot, which are not targeted through each of the R100 contracts, or where deployment under R100 is known to be programmed for after the end of 2021, will be eligible for the Scottish Government’s new voucher scheme to ensure all premises have access to at least a superfast service by the end of 2021.
This will not prevent R100 deploying as planned, but will offer accelerated access for those who need earlier access. The scheme will allow people to obtain superfast broadband from other sources, from satellite operators to fixed wireless/mobile operators and larger fibre suppliers, ensuring superfast access is achieved for all premises in the agreed timescale. Our new voucher scheme will launch later this year and we will keep you up to date on our progress and information about the new scheme, when this happens.
Paul Wheelhouse MSP, Minister for Energy, Connectivity and the Islands