Community Fibre Partnership on hold

People just outside Kintore who live beyond the 1,200-metre distance from fibre broadband connection boxes have been dealt another blow in their battle to receive a decent broadband service.

Many of the longer lines in Kintore have simply had their original copper cables connected to a fibre-enabled cabinet, most of them at the telephone exchange in Kintore. While that nominally enables the authorities to claim these lines have been upgraded to fibre, anything connected with more than 1,200 metres of the old copper cable, is likely to see no speed benefit.

Broadband bid for Balbithan

Among them are residents of the Balbithan area of Kintore. There, upgrading to a fibre broadband service, like BT Infinity, actually reduced broadband speeds, rather than improved them.

Fed up with slow speeds as low as 0.5Mb, the residents had clubbed together to apply for a community fibre partnership to deliver superfast broadband to their area.

But their hopes have been dashed again when – rather than the expected proposal and outline costs – they received a reply from Openreach saying that: “Nothing is moving in Scotland at present as everyone is waiting for the Scottish Government to announce their coverage plans under the R100 programme”.

The Openreach response continues: “Until we see what areas will get coverage, what technologies will be deployed and what expectations of speeds are available – it would be a complete waste of your time for us to design and propose new infrastructure at this juncture”.

The Balbithan residents had hoped their Openreach Community Fibre Partnership might not only deliver superfast broadband to their area, but also act as a model for other areas around Kintore, like Cottown and Leylodge, who are also suffering from very poor broadband.

“It is very frustrating, because this is the second time we have had a community fibre partnership application stall on us,” commented one of the residents.

“In 2016 we were advised by senior executives at both Aberdeenshire Council and BT to apply for a community fibre partnership. But, that first application was shelved because of an expected upgrade that never happened.

“In November last year we submitted a second application to Openreach, who had taken over the community fibre partnership programme from BT. Now this second application has been put on hold because everyone is waiting on the Scottish Government to explain how it will deliver on its promise to make ‘superfast’ broadband available to everyone by 2021.

“For those of us who felt let down by the promises that the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband programme was going to deliver ‘superfast’ broadband to rural subscribers, this just rubs salt into the wound. How long will we have to wait now to get a decent broadband service? It could be a long wait – 2021 is still three years away.”
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