Balbithan broadband bid fails due to cost

Residents in the Balbithan area of Kintore have had to throw in the towel on their bid to improve their slow broadband. Encouraged by BT and Aberdeenshire Council they made an application for a Community Fibre Partnership which would co-fund the provision of fibre connections to the premises.

They had hoped that Balbithan might be the pilot for similar schemes to bring decent broadband to the Leylodge and Cottown areas.

Broadband bid for Balbithan

Initially the households received a response from Openreach saying that “nothing was moving in Scotland” as everyone was waiting on the Scottish Government to announce their plans.

When the MSP for the constituency including Balbithan, Gillian Martin approached Openreach they said that “getting fibre to this area is technically challenging”. At a rough estimate, the response continued, it would “suggest a cost of over £200,000”, which would work out at £20,000 per household.

This contrasted with the tone of the Openreach Community Fibre Partnership website which states: “We can get you upgraded to superfast or ultrafast speeds” and says “we’ll work with you to find a way to bring fast fibre broadband to your area”. The partnership model means that Openreach would co-fund the project.

This, of course, is in even more stark contrast to the hype at the launch of the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband programme which – with £157 million of public money behind it – promised to bring “superfast” (24MB minimum) broadband to rural properties that would otherwise not be connected to “superfast”.

“Four years ago, when the Kintore exchange was fibre enabled we all looked forward to receiving decent broadband,” a spokesperson for the residents explained.

“Our hopes were then raised again when the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband programme was launched and we all waited to see trucks with fibre cable heading out along the roads from Kintore to deliver the promised superfast broadband.

“In reality our lines were connected to fibre at the exchange and the aged copper cables were left to take the signal to our properties. Because this distance is more than 1200 metres, we see no benefit from a fibre connection. Indeed, we tried installing fibre broadband and it was actually slower than ADSL!”

“Balbithan really is not that remote. We’re about a mile from Kintore and 12 miles from Scotland’s third city. It seems incredible that we have apparently been forgotten by the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband programme.”
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