Broadband good news, bad news

Finally we have some news on broadband for those of us living in the Balbithan and Wester Fintray areas of Kintore, thanks to inquiries by the office of Gillian Martin, the Gordon constituency MSP. (Being across the River Don, these areas are in a different constituency from Kintore.)

The good news is that people living in the AB51 0UN postcode (the area around Wester Fintray) could be about to see an upgrade to “superfast” broadband as part of ‘Gainshare’. This is the scheme were additional funding raised by the uptake of fibre connections, is to be re-invested in extending the “superfast” network.

broadband failures in Kintore

Unfortunately the postcode AB51 0UQ, which covers the broadband blackspot of Balbithan, is not apparently included in the programme. This is extremely disappointing for an area where – based on the most recent Kintore Broadband Survey, no-one receives even the UK Government’s minimum of 10Mbps, let alone “superfast”, and subscribers report download speeds dropping as low as 500kbps.

At these speeds watching video becomes impossible and uploading web pages like this one usually requires expensive mobile data on a phone hotspot.

At the moment we’ve not received any word of whether there is any prospect of improvement for the other broadband blackspots around Kintore, like the Leylodge and Cottown areas.



The problem for those of us living and working in a broadband blackspot is that we have nowhere to turn to get a decent, reasonably-priced service. There is an Alternative Solutions Scheme but that is only open to those who are unable to access download speeds of 2Mbps.

The Scottish Government has committed itself to the Reaching 100 (R100) programme that means everyone should be able to get “superfast” (generally accepted as 24Mbps) by 2021. There has been no word of what costs people might have to pay for the installation of the technology to deliver this commitment to each house or business.

For those of us who feel we have been let down by the DSSB, which we recall promised to deliver “superfast” to rural areas, the future is very uncertain.

  • Simple things like finding information on the web is a protracted, frustrating wait for pages to open.
  • Watching video is impossible.
  • Catch-up TV may not work
  • Uploading and downloading files is a long, protracted problem with files often timing out.

I have just spent three frustrating days ‘baby-sitting’ a critical file that I needed to send to Apple. The upload failed constantly and ultimately – after many wasted hours – I had to find an alternative means of delivering it.



With more and more of our work, commerce and leisure now being conducted on the internet I am dreading the next four years in the slow lane as we wait for the promise to connect everyone to “superfast” by 2021.

When the Digital Scotland Superfast Programme was announced, the hype led us to believe that – only a mile outside Kintore and just ten miles from Scotland’s third city – we would soon be enjoying faster, more reliable broadband. We expected to see rolls of fibre being uncoiled to bring “superfast” broadband to our community.

The reality, we now realise, is that we have been nominally upgraded to fibre, allowing the authorities to tick a ‘job done’ box when the reality is that the connection from fibre still takes place on an ancient copper cable. This means that, as subscribers, we see zero benefit from the fibre connection.



Indeed, it seems our connection is poorer and less reliable than in the days when we were on an “exchange only” line.
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