Following the broadband money

Scotland’s broadband plan leaves 356,000 out in the cold

with 10 comments


One in eight Scottish homes is unlikely to get a broadband service greater than 24Mbps, but up to 40% of rural homes will be left behind, following million of pounds of taxpayers’ money given to BT, say researchers  at Edinburgh University.

Michael Fourman and  Peter Buneman, professors at at the School for Informatics, say the current claim that the £410m investment to get  95% of premises in Scotland on to superfast broadband by the end of 2017-18 “is not credible”.

“According to our calculations, less than 85% of Scottish households will have access to superfast broadband, and the long-term prospects for rural Scotland are dismal. We predict that  at least 43% of the 450,000 households in rural Scotland will not receive superfast broadband from the current programme.”

Fourman and Buneman have revised their estimates downward after they discovered a bug in the program they used to calculate the expected shortfall, and in  response to feedback over the correct distance over which to calculate VDSL performance. Fourman  has sent an exhaustive reply complete with tables.

He says:

There are many approximations to be chosen and caveats to be stated. We can produce many different sets of estimates, but that fact should not obscure the underlying issues:

Unless there is substantial investment in hundreds new fibre-fed cabinets (or equivalents), (or in FTTH where there are exchange only or too-long lines 🙂 :

1. In rural areas at least 40% of households will not get superfast (>24Mbps) unless we shorten some copper beyond existing exchanges. If we focus on remote rural areas, that number rises to 45% and in very remote rural areas to over 60%.

These are optimistic estimates based on theoretical performance of good copper. Using empirically-based estimates for copper speeds gives higher stillslow figures: 49% for rural overall; 52% for remote rural; and 71% for very remote rural.

2. Even in urban areas it is unlikely that 95% will get superfast (>24Mbps) speeds. If we use empirically-based estimates for copper speeds then one in eight households in urban areas of Scotland are unlikely to be able to achieve the EU target of 30Mbps.

Now please fill in the poll below so that we can get some reliable numbers.

Written by Br0kenTeleph0n3

2014/03/02 at 20:37

10 Responses

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  1. Just the same in the rest of the UK. It ain’t just Scotland who is being sold a dead donkey.

    Chris Conder

    2014/03/02 at 21:22

  2. I am puzzled why this Edinburgh paper has used 1.2km at 30mb as the definitive breakpoint. As far as I can tell, perceived wisdom has declared that 24mb is unlikely to reach more than 1.2km (NB on GOOD local loop), so why 30 at 1.2?

    This leads on to how the performance of the BDUK scheme is to be assessed. I see frequent reference to ‘speedtests’ at premises, which are, in fact almost worthless, since they are affected by house wiring and specific domestic equipment performance.

    Is there any plan to get accurate sync speed data into the pot? This surely must be the arbiter of ‘success’ or ‘failure’ of the BT roll-out since I am certain Broadband Bill will claim ‘domestic’ problems for low speedtest results. It is crucial that LAs have an accurate method of whether the contracts’ terms have been met regarding any written-in ‘penalties’.

    mike phillips

    2014/03/03 at 08:25

    • They use 30Mbps because that is the European Commission’s goal – 30Mbps universal access by 2020, plus 50% using a 100Mbps service.


      2014/03/03 at 09:30

      • Ian – I’m not querying the speed, just the line length. If ‘perceived wisdom’ says you cannot get more than 24mb at 1.2km why quote 30 at 1.2?

        mike phillips

        2014/03/03 at 09:52

  3. The table has been updated!


    2014/03/03 at 08:48

    • Please include a link.


      2014/03/03 at 09:30

      • Your link.

        This note (corrected 3/3/2014[1])

        There was a bug in the programme used to calculate the figures given an earlier version of this note. The situation in urban areas is significantly better than we had said; the rural situation marginally worse.


        2014/03/03 at 09:40

  4. Totals don’t add up?


    2014/03/03 at 09:44

  5. v3 of numbers now appeared. 355,900 now.


    2014/03/03 at 18:56

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