More than 1,200 metres from the exchange? You might miss out on superfast broadband.

Two years ago the Kintore exchange was upgraded to provide ‘superfast’ fibre broadband. Those of us who were struggling with slow speeds and throughput failures rejoiced at the thought of faster, more reliable broadband.

Our confidence was based on the fact that the Scottish Government and local authorities were backing the Digital Scotland programme with £157 million of public money.

The aim, as it says on the Digital Scotland website is: “The Scottish Government and its partners are extending high speed fibre broadband to around 95% of Scotland by the end of March 2018.”

broadband failures in Kintore

It seemed clear that our money was being invested to ensure that there was a flat playing field and that superfast broadband would be made available to addresses where the infrastructure might not be commercially viable.

Otherwise, why pour public money into the project?

For months the line checker said it would take “a little longer” to bring superfast broadband to exchange-only (EO) lines like ours and our status was given as “technology pending”.

While it was frustrating, like others in a similar situation, we took comfort from apparently being included in the programme.

Last week I received a shock response from Scotland Superfast's Facebook team stating that: "As far as the existing contract that is in place between Scottish Government and Openreach, your line has been upgraded.”

This is because our line, along with all the other 'long lines', have now been connected to fibre-enabled distribution boxes at the exchange. But – because we are more than 1,200 metres from the box – any speed benefit from fibre is negated by the length of copper cable between the box and our house. 

Puzzled how Openreach could claim that our line has been upgraded when there is no change in the speed rating of our line, I made further enquiries.

I have since been told that the contractors can claim that all the lines in any postcode have been upgraded, if just one line in that postcode sees an improvement in speed – let alone ‘superfast’ speeds.

Considering all the hype at the launch and that investment of £157 million of public money, this reality seems to fall a long way short of the “high-speed fibre broadband” promise of the Digital Scotland programme.

The only hope that Scotland Superfast could offer us was the Scottish Government’s aim to have superfast broadband for all subscribers by 2021.

I guess that means up to five more years of waiting for web pages to open, waiting for pages like this one to upload to the server and being unable to watch videos as they stop and buffer every few seconds.

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