mobile broadband

Broadband Status Dec 2018

Post in Utilities by Steve Jones
A status update of where we are with the Garve and District Broadband (GDB) group since our launch in 2016.

Garve and District Broadband (GDB) was established in 2016 to bring faster and more reliable broadband to areas in our community with poor or no broadband (typically speeds less than 0.5Mbps). These are situated outside Garve and Strathgarve, which already benefit from a fibre cabinet and an upgraded exchange (to ADSL2+), implemented in early 2017.

After exploring all options, GDB found that the only solution for providing better and faster broadband in these areas is FTTP (Fibre To The Premises). This was in part driven by a decision by Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) and Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) to put FTTP into Achnasheen and Lochluichart.

The project was structured into phases:

  1. Phase 1: All properties outside Garve and Strathgarve
  2. Phase 2: The more remote properties outside Garve and Strathgarve
  3. Phase 3: Strathgarve and Gorstan to Garve

It was recognised that Garve village should be reviewed following Phase 3. This would establish what else needs to be done to get superfast or possibly ultrafast broadband to all Garve village.

In December 2017 LCT agreed to fund Phase 1. The government through BDUK / HIE is funding about 60% of premises, and LCT through GDB is funding the rest. HIE is not funding all the premises because the government places a cap on its investment per property.

LCT also agreed to fund some of Phase 2. More work was needed to understand the solutions and costs for the remaining remote premises in Phase 2.

Phases 1 and 2 : Premises outside Garve and Strathgarve

GDB signed contracts with BT OpenReach (BTOR) and HIE in January 2018 to deliver FTTP to most of the 133 premises from Achnasheen to Gorstan hamlet, and from Little Garve to Aultguish inclusive (Phase 1).

BTOR completed the infrastructure build in December 2018. All premises, except the most remote, can now order fibre broadband. All but a few self-digs have been completed.

Many people have already ordered a fibre service.

GDB has now agreed solutions for the more remote premises (Phase 2). FTTP will be taken to Luib and Strathvaich, subject to LCT funding. A satellite solution will be put into Fannich and Badavanich / Lubmore. Aultdearg does not currently wish to have any broadband solution.

GDB is seeking an additional small investment from the LCT in December 2018 to complete Phase 2.

GDB will contract with BTOR for these remote premises in 1Q 2019, subject to LCT funding. The work will be completed within 12 months of the signing date.

Phase 3 : Strathgarve and Gorstan / Garve

Half the premises in Strathgarve are connected to cabinet 3, as are those between Garve hamlet and Gorstan. The other half of Strathgarve is on Exchange Only (EO, that is, they are linked via a copper line directly to the exchange, and not to a copper cabinet, making it more difficult to install fibre).

Advertised speeds here for those properties connected to cabinet 3 are between 18 and 30 Mbps. For those premises on EO they are between 4 and 11 Mbps, but with a minimum under 2 Mbps.

BTOR will provide GDB with solutions and costs for at least superfast broadband for these premises in March 2019. Subject to LCT funding, GDB will contract with BTOR for this work in 2Q 2019. The work will be complete within 12 months of the signing date.

Phase 4: Review of Garve Village

GDB has done an initial review of Garve village.

There is a mix of broadband technical solutions. From information available publicly, the picture is as follows:

  • 24 premises are linked to cabinet 3 (all IV23 2PR; and numbers 1 to 8, Matheson Road in IV23 2QF)
  • 11 are on Exchange Only but are being considered by HIE for an FTTP technical solution. (all IV23 2PS, Station Road; and all IV23 2PT, Lochview and Killin Farm)
  • 17 are on Exchange Only (all IV23 2PP, Stirling Drive; numbers 9 to 14 Matheson Road in IV23 2QF)

Advertised speeds here for premises linked to cabinet 3 are between 20 and 75Mbps depending on distance from the cabinet. For those premises on EO, they are between 8 and 19 Mbps depending on distance - not superfast, but still a reasonable speed.

GDB is pressing HIE (Director of Digital, HIE) and BTOR (Partnership Director, Scotland, OpenReach) to get better broadband into Garve village. They have replied that they are investigating options and costs for Garve, which will probably be defined in Sumer 2019. At that point GDB will know what the solutions are, and whether the government or the community needs to fund them. Both HIE and BTOR acknowledge that more needs to be done in Garve. It’s a question of ‘when’ not ‘if.’

Several solutions could be employed in Garve village to deliver better broadband e.g.

  • Additional fibre green cabinets and existing copper lines (FTTC / VDSL2)
  • Higher speed over existing copper wires with new infrastructure products (eg FTTdp / G.Fast)
  • Fibre to the premises (FTTP)

Other factors that will influence what happens in Garve are:

  • The main focus of HIE / government funding is on remote areas where there is no or poor broadband (less than 2 Mbps)
  • HIE is currently tendering a project called R100 (Reaching 100% of premises with superfast broadband by end 2021). Many premises currently below superfast will be included in this project for delivery by end 2021 and funded by the government
  • While GDB can contract directly with BTOR under their Community Fibre Partnership scheme (as we have done for Phases 1 and 2), BTOR tend to focus their limited resources on areas with poor broadband. Simply having the funds to be able to contract with them is not enough – they allocate their resources to projects on the basis of need as well
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