A survey organised by Kintore and District Community Council reveals a widening broadband divide in and around the Aberdeenshire town.
In Kintore itself fibre broadband subscribers are enjoying speeds up to 70 Mbps, yet just a mile out of town communities are struggling with speeds as much as 140 times slower.
In the survey, 28% of respondents reported getting “superfast” speeds of more than 24 Mbps. But 63% report their speeds dropping below the proposed UK Government household minimum of 10 Mbps.
The worst broadband blackspots are Balbithan, Wester Fintray, Leylodge and Cottown. No-one in these areas reports speeds reaching the proposed household minimum, with some saying their speeds are as low as 0.5 Mbps.
“The survey starkly confirms the widening digital divide between urban and rural broadband subscribers in the Kintore area,” says Brian Johnstone, Chairman of Kintore and District Community Council. “Good broadband is no longer a luxury. It is a necessity for most households. But, what we are seeing around Kintore is a two-speed community.
“Most of the people living in Kintore itself now have access to superfast fibre broadband. But, those in rural areas, even just a mile or so from the town, are currently seeing little or no benefit from the superfast programme.
“This should concern the authorities and the telecom providers as much as it does our community council – especially given all the talk there was about connecting rural subscribers at the launch of the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband programme, which was supported by £157 million of public money. Certainly, in our area, it seems that the fine words have not translated into reality and rural communities have been left behind.”
“Slow broadband speeds have been common throughout Aberdeenshire and I supported the Council decision to invest £16 million of taxpayers’ money into the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband Programme,” comments Councillor Fergus Hood.
“The programme runs until the end of 2018 by which time 90% of premises in Aberdeenshire should be able to access a fibre product offering speeds of 24Mbps or better. That is the challenge.
“Local evidence in Kintore would suggest that there is still significant work required in order to achieve this target. I will continue to monitor the broadband programme and seek regular updates on providing superfast connections for rural residents”
Although many properties outside Kintore are now connected to fibre-enabled cabinets, these are mostly located at the Kintore exchange. The connection from there to the properties is usually on the old copper cable network. Losses on this network mean that when distance from the connection box exceeds 1,200 metres, there is little, if any, speed benefit remaining.