The big news this month is that BT MAY be bringing Superfast Broadband to the Borthwickbrae exchange this year. On the Scotland Superfast website, they say they expect to connect the first premises by December 2017, but we know that in other areas these deadlines have regularly come and gone so it’s maybe too early to get excited about it.
If it happens, this is still no guarantee that every premise off the Borthwickbrae exchange could be getting Superfast Broadband, but it’s a promising bit of news that Superfast broadband may be closer than we thought for some.
What about those NOT connected to the Borthwickbrae exchange or those very hard to reach properties that may not be covered ? On the Borders Community Broadband (BCB) front, we are preparing for the start of the procurement (tendering) process. As BCB is using public money (currently Community Broadband Scotland have allocated us £2.3million), there is quite a lengthy procedure we have to follow, and is expected to take 9 months to complete. While this might sound a long time, it’s by no means unusual when tendering for a complex bit of infrastructure development like this. We’re starting the “run up” to the process now, developing the detailed contract documents that will be required. We expect tenders to go out to the market in the autumn, and a supplier chosen in spring next year.
This approach may change though - BCB funding won’t be enough to connect everyone, so will be followed by the Scottish Government’s R100 (Reaching 100%) program that intends to ensure EVERY property in Scotland that wants Superfast Broadband can get it by 2021. A review is being undertaken to work out the best way of delivering the BCB project alongside the R100 work so that we find the optimum solution. The review encompasses all Scottish community broadband projects’ relationship with R100 – not just BCB.
However it works out, it's looking like Superfast Broadband really IS coming, and for a few lucky ones maybe quite soon. It now seems to be a just a case of how, and when – not if.
I hope I’ll be able to provide more detail in the next newsletter or two, once dates and final arrangements for all this are confirmed.