Digital divide widens in Kintore area

As the Scottish Government’s 2017 target looms for 95% of households to have access to superfast broadband, a survey in the Aberdeenshire town of Kintore suggests the digital divide is widening.

While those living near the exchange in Kintore are able to opt for superfast broadband, with 20% reporting speeds of more than 20MB, 48% of the survey respondents report speeds of 5MB or less – half the recommended minimum of 10MB.

broadband failures in Kintore

More concerning, 60% of respondents report speeds speeds dropping as low as 1MB or less.

Two thirds (66.7%) of respondents say they are dissatisfied with the speed of their broadband, with 40% complaining of regular outages.

The results come from a small straw poll run on and its associated Facebook page, but it suggests that the digital divide in the town is widening.

The main problem seems to be those who are some distance from the exchange. Subscribers who were connected direct to the exchange, have now been connected to distribution boxes at the exchange. If they are more than 1,200 metres from these boxes they are unlikely to see any benefit from fibre.

It is clear that there are many who live more than 1,200 metres from the nearest fibre connection, who feel completely let down by the current programme.

In our own case we are two kilometres from the distribution box. Digital Scotland tell us that our line is now categorised as ‘upgraded’ in terms of the current Openreach contract. That doesn’t seem right as we don’t have access to superfast broadband, which appeared to be the main aim of the programme. Indeed, our early experience is that the speeds and reliability have deteriorated.

With £157 million of public money invested in the Digital Scotland programme a lot of people assumed that there would be something of a focus on bringing high-speed broadband to rural subscribers, who might otherwise miss out.

Aberdeenshire councillors are to receive a progress report on the Digital Scotland programme at the full council meeting this Thursday (September 29).

See our Storify on Kintore Superfast Broadband

Some of the comments left by respondents are:

“Broadband used to be very good and reliable but has gotten very slow and even non-existent at peak periods in the last month.”

“Use of catch up tv via Freeview is a waste of time. Constant buffering or complete failure.”

“End of long line from Kemnay exchange on a shared line. Multiple outages of services no prospect of improvement telephone line quality is poor too.. Have turned to using mobile broadband but is expensive and is usage capped.”

“I recently upgraded from standard to fibre broadband and have seen no change to the speed of my service. Very disappointing.”

“As a business trying to operate with such slow broadband is unacceptable!”

“Cabinet is at Hatton of Fintray 1-1/2 miles from us. Told we are too far from cabinet to get nothing better. Paying same price for 1/5th of speed doesn't really seem fair. Unfortunately standard service would offer under 0.5 Mbps and we have absolutely NO 3G let alone 4G coverage (O2 & Vodafone) and neither supplier interested in boosting signal to cover dead spots.”

“We are only 3 miles from the centre of Kintore, with many houses and businesses on our road and we cannot get more than 0.4mb. Our BT cable runs one mile up the side of the road and nothing is being done to improve the service. It's a disgrace.”

“We're just outside the village and it seems there's not any interest in us having a better connection as we're a small collection of houses that can be forgotten about.”

“Paid for 78. Then got told 27-59, now we get no more than 30”

“Travesty that we pay the same as people with a workable service, let alone a good service”

“I have been told my speed is slow because I live so far from the exchange.”

“Though people are worse off, I prefer getting my money's worth. We pay for 38mbps and we only get 18. Doesn’t add up considering how much it costs”

“We have BT Infinity 2, and regularly get 60Mb/s download and 17-18Mb/s upload speed. Since moving to a fibre connection, we no longer suffer the slowdowns at peak times that we did when we had just a "normal" (typically 16 Mb/s) broadband connection through BT.”

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