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Scottish broadband roll-out

The availability of easily affordable high speed broadband in Scotland has become widespread in recent years, much as it has across the rest of the UK. However, with around 99 per cent of Scotland's population connected, it was discovered that there was a problem regarding the reach of broadband in Scotland.

Scotland's broadband reach problem means that for the one per cent of people without a broadband connection in Scotland, there is difficulty accessing the internet as a result of the distance between their house and the nearest broadband-enabled telephone exchange.

Fairly recently, it seemed this remaining one per cent of the Scottish population had no realistic chance of connecting to broadband in the foreseeable future, but a government initiative has changed that dim outlook and the future of broadband in Scotland suddenly looks brighter.

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We’ve tried to explain just what’s happening regarding the roll-out of broadband services to rural Scotland and answer any questions you may have regarding the Scottish Broadband Reach Project.

What is the Scottish broadband reach problem?

A reach problem or reach issue occurs when a house, office or business premises is situated too far away from the nearest broadband or ADSL-enabled telephone exchange. Over long distances the telephone signal has degraded so much that it reaches a level where it cannot provide a broadband service.

Want to know more about ADSL? Check out our quick guide to ADSL broadband: What is ADSL broadband?

The length of the line is the major factor in this problem. So numerous hills or valleys, or even the presence of water, can increase the distance the cable has to cover, and as such, lead to lack of broadband connection.

How far away is too far?

There is no hard and fast rule. But an estimated 5km radius (around 8km of line length) from the broadband-enabled telephone exchange could be enough to mean that your house or business cannot receive broadband.

Solving the reach problem for broadband in Scotland

The Scottish Government started an initiative called the Broadband Reach Programme. This saw the award of a grant to a company called Avanti Communications to bring broadband to the areas of Scotland currently unable to gain access to a broadband connection.

Bringing broadband to everyone

In October 2007, the Scottish Government asked any homes and business unable to get broadband in Scotland to register with them. The government began to compile a list of all the Scottish broadband black spots so that it could start addressing the problems of reach and make broadband in Scotland available to everyone.

By June 2008, the Scottish government signed a £3.3m contract to deliver an affordable broadband service to all the households and business that had registered to say they could not get broadband services in Scotland.

A company called Avanti Communications won the contract to help provide people who are currently without any broadband access in Scotland, with affordable broadband connections.

Delivering broadband to remote areas

Avanti will supply the most remote areas of Scotland with broadband services using one of two methods:

  • Two way satellite broadband access
  • WiFi broadband access

Almost 4,000 households and business in Scotland spread across a range of rural areas were included in the contract to make broadband more available in the country.

How the contract works

The Scottish Government offered a maximum grant of £3.4 million. The idea behind the initiative is that the project pays for the installation costs of every customer signing up to get broadband in Scotland in areas where people can’t currently get access to ADSL-enabled telephone exchanges.

The ongoing monthly costs will need to be met by the customers as with any other broadband service. This means that people looking to get broadband in remote areas of Scotland, who cannot currently sign up to any service can get broadband for less than £25 per month with no set up costs.

All customers who signed a contract with Avanti by April 2009 will have received broadband services by May 2009.

Rolling out broadband to rural Scotland – how to get connected

Roll out of broadband services to people in rural Scotland began in July 2008 and went live across Scotland within a year.

If you registered as a Scottish household currently unable to get broadband, then Avanti Communications will contact you to offer you a broadband service and arrange installation.

Who is eligible for the Scottish broadband roll-out?

Everyone living in an area not serviced by an ADSL-enabled telephone exchange should have registered to get broadband as part of the Scottish Broadband Reach Project. This service was designed to roll out broadband in Scotland, wherever you live, however remote.

How much does this broadband service cost?

The basic broadband package is under £25 per month including VAT and there are no set up costs. There are options for higher bandwidths and different packages, including a range of packages designed just for business users.

What happens if I haven't registered?

If you live in Scotland and you are currently unable to get broadband because of reach problems, i.e. you are too far from an ADSL-enabled telephone exchange, you may still be able to sign-up to the Scottish Broadband Reach Project.

There is no guarantee that you will be able to get your house connected if you try to register now, but should you want to contact the project manager, the postal address is:

Scottish Government
Telecoms Policy Unit
Meridian Court (2nd Floor)
5 Cadogan Street
G2 6AT.

You can also read updates on the Broadband Reach project here: Latest News on Broadband Reach Project