4,000 Aberdeenshire homes take up satellite broadband option

Aberdeenshire Councils contribution of 16m was the largest local authority contribution to the programme
Aberdeenshire Councils contribution of 16m was the largest local authority contribution to the programme

A £16 million investment by Aberdeenshire Council in the region’s broadband network has seen major strides made in terms of improved services.

Councillors were told at Thursday’s full authority meeting that 4,000 homes had since taken up a satellite option to access a better service.

Much of the money was pumped into an extension of the fibre network, but the challenging topography and rurality of the Shire saw a big take up in the satellite system.

Infrastructure services chief Stephen Archer told councillors that more than 12,000 premises would be able to access fibre in the region which would offer a “significant benefit and improvement” over existing services.

He said: “Fibre is where we need to go because other technologies are neither cost-effective nor fully evolved and developed to allow us to put in robust connectivity across Aberdeenshire.”

With some 2,000km of fibre now laid under the latest scheme, Mr Archer described it is a “celebration of success”, but stressed that pockets of Aberdeenshire still suffered from poor connectively – often still suffering with dial-up speeds.

While welcoming the results so far, council leader Jim Gifford said there was still a long way to go to support North-east communities.

He said: “There are still far too many properties in many places that don’t have decent – and in some cases any – broadband and that’s a piece of work we have to keep moving forward.”

Aberdeenshire Council’s contribution of £16m was the largest local authority contribution to the programme.

Work is continuing on installations in Aberdeenshire and is likely to run until later this year, but it has already seen the number of street cabinets in operation increase from 335 to 458 and the number of premises benefiting from a fibre to the premises connection increase from 691 to 1088.

Councillors will also advised that the Scottish Government’s R100 programme will be coming onstream later this year which will prioritise FTTP connections as these are the future-proofed solution.

R100 will offer at 30Mbps connection to 100% of addresses in Scotland, but councillors were advised that it does not have sufficient funding to deliver a FTTP connection to all eligible premises in Aberdeenshire.

A programme of “aligned interventions” to provide an alternative solution to these premises will start almost simultaneously, with Aberdeenshire in the running to be a pilot area with potential suppliers having already been approached.