HomeBusiness150,000 homes and businesses missing out on ScotGov's R100 broadband promise Achi-News

150,000 homes and businesses missing out on ScotGov’s R100 broadband promise Achi-News

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150,000 homes and businesses missing out on ScotGov’s R100 broadband promise


Achi news desk-

But new official data covering the nation’s 32 local authorities seen by The Herald shows coverage in January was as low as 72% in Orkney. In the rural areas of the islands it falls to as low as 59%.

Due to be completed by 2021 but now expected to take until 2028, the £600m flagship scheme has been beset by problems.

But in January, Prime Minister Humza Yousaf claimed that “every home and every business” has access to superfast broadband.

READ MORE: SNP urged to ‘rethink’ broadband policy after dismal voucher take-up

But according to communications regulator Ofcom, Scotland has 95% superfast broadband coverage, which equates to 2.737m homes and businesses, with rural areas of Scotland seeing on average only 80% of properties with access.

While Shetland island council areas and Eilean Siar nan Council areas have only 75% and 77% of services respectively, the mainland areas of West Dunbartonshire, Dundee City and Clackmannanshire have 99%.

A full picture of superfast broadband provision for each of Scotland’s 32 local authority areas

Meanwhile, according to data from communications regulator Ofcom, Scotland lags behind the rest of the UK in providing gold standard fiber broadband that connects directly to the home or business using fiber optic cables rather than using older copper cables which are less reliable. .

In January there was only 55% coverage in Scotland compared to 61% across the UK.

In rural areas the difference is more pronounced with 35% provision in Scotland compared to 46% in the UK.

The Scottish Conservatives’ shadow rural affairs secretary, Rachael Hamilton, said: “The SNP’s failure to deliver superfast broadband across Scotland is a prime example of them over-promising and then under-delivering.

“Rural Scotland has been short-changed by repeated broken promises and will not swallow Humza Yousaf’s shameless spin.

“Having access to high-speed broadband is essential to our rural economy and attracts people to live in these communities.

“SNP ministers must stop wallowing and ensure that this long-awaited plan is finally delivered in full.”

The R100 project was launched in 2017 with a target to bring superfast broadband to every home and business in Scotland by 2021.

The rural economy and connectivity secretary said at the time that the ‘superfast broadband for all’ move was “great news for Scotland”.

He said the move was necessary for Scotland to ensure inclusive economic growth, help businesses innovate and grow, prepare children for the workplaces of the future, create a skilled workforce for the digital century and reform public services.

“We concluded that the economic damage that would be caused by sending large parts of the Scottish countryside into the broadband slow lane – and, by extension, the economic slow lane – was unacceptable,” said Mr Ewing said they were targeting on purpose. funds where they were most needed – in rural areas.

Video: What is the R100 programme?

The work was divided into three geographical lots – central, north and south – with initial plans for cable connections to around 114,000 buildings.

But it was not until December 2019 that ministers signed agreements with BT for the £83m elements in Central Scotland and £133m for Southern Scotland.

Problems with the largest of the three agreement areas – the North lot – were even worse.

Delayed by a legal challenge launched by a disgruntled rival bidder, the contract with BT was only signed in December 2020, and the number of sites involved was not completed until August 2021.

With the timetable slipping, in 2019 the Government announced a contingency voucher scheme offering one-off grants of £5000 to help properties without fixed connections R100 to get broadband via wireless and satellite. But take-up of the vouchers has been very low, with only around 3,500 issued, and connection costs are said to exceed the voucher in some areas.

In February, ministers were accused of cynical “stitching up” after telling investigators the scheme had been a success.

The SNP-Green Government made the controversial claim in an official tender document for a new £100,000 evaluation of the delayed R100 rural broadband programme.

Opposition parties said connections were effectively impossible in parts of the country, with one community in Shetland recently quoted a connection fee of £48,000 per household.

However, ministers insist they deliver on the commitment on time.

The Scottish Government announced last month that it was commissioning an evaluation of the R100 program “against investment objectives”.

He said: “It is essential that we are able to assess the Value for Money of this program in terms of understanding the social, economic, environmental and other benefits to homes, businesses and communities from improvements in broadband connectivity and speed.”

The procurement was run by the Office of the Chief Economic Adviser within the Government, with an estimated budget of £100,000.

The Herald:

But an official tender document based on R100 has been submitted in line with the Government’s original timetable.

He said: “The Scottish Government delivered on the commitment to ensure that every home and business could access superfast broadband by the end of 2021.”

Opposition parties said this was a misleading starting point which undermined the whole exercise, as it put pressure on researchers to ignore the full picture.

According to the Scottish Government, as at 30 November 2023, 34,328 buildings had been connected as a direct result of R100 contracts.

They said their contract delivery partner, Openreach, also provides a number of connections outside the scope of the R100 contracts, with over 9,200 additional properties connected.

And a further 3,694 properties have been connected through the R100 Broadband Voucher Scheme (SBVS) to date.

A total of 14,813 premises were due to be connected this year in some of the worst affected local authority areas for superfast broadband provision – Aberdeenshire, Angus, Argyll and Bute, Dumfries and Galloway, Highland, Moray, Na h-Eileanan an Iar, North Ayrshire, Orkney, Scottish Borders, Shetland and South Ayrshire.


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