Maryburgh and Blairforge Broadband Update
For many years now the prospect of better broadband for Maryburgh and Blairforge has been a long saga of empty promises. Wireless ISPs, the Scottish Government’s delayed Reaching 100% programme, and lots of discussion about community schemes funded by the UK Government’s Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme. Not surprisingly, the community is disillusioned and frustrated.
However, now there is total clarity on UK and Scottish Government schemes and our community’s status in these plans.
Maryburgh and Blairforge are not covered by the Scottish Government’s R100 contract for Central Scotland which was awarded to Openreach and outlined in January 2020 by the Minister for Connectivity, Paul Wheelhouse MSP. You can check the status of your property at:
Although this sounds disappointing, it is actually very good news for Maryburgh and Blairforge. On 18th August 2020 Paul Wheelhouse MSP announced the Scottish Broadband Voucher Scheme, which will provide all homes and businesses not covered by the R100 contract up to £5,000 for broadband upgrades. These vouchers can be combined with UK Government Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme funding, so residential homes can get up to £6,500 and businesses up to £8,500 each. This includes sole-traders and the self-employed.
This funding is provided directly to suppliers who build broadband networks, and accessed by homes and businesses “pledging vouchers” to suppliers. No money is passed to residents or community groups.
So although Maryburgh and Blairforge are not covered by Openreach’s R100 contract for Central Scotland, the good news is that using vouchers a Full Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) upgrade for the area can be fully funded and guaranteed to be complete within 12 months of securing an agreement with Openreach. Many years ahead of most households under the R100 contract.
However, being excluded from the R100 contract means that the community needs to be active and take ownership of organising a broadband solution.
The proposition for Maryburgh and Blairforge residents is simple:
- We can secure a Full Fibre to the Premises upgrade at zero cost. This future-proofs broadband for many generations and enables us to order broadband at any speed between 30 Mbps and 1,000 Mbps (gigabit) right away.
- Although a community project, each upgrade is private and individual, i.e. it’s not a shared network.
- Your only commitment is to pledge a voucher, which means you must take a broadband service for aminimum of 12 months once the upgrade is complete. The choice of broadband provider is slightly limited right now, but does include BT, Zen, TalkTalk, Aquiss, Andrews & Arnold, Zen and Vodafone. Others such as Sky, SSE, Plusnet and EE are not yet available, but we expect them to be very soon.
- This approach to broadband upgrades is proven locally with 178 Full Fibre to the Premises upgrades now live in Cleish, Classlochie, Mawcarse and Cuthill as of August 2020.
Full Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) is the solution that Openreach will be delivering to the majority of homes under the Scottish Government’s R100 contract. FTTP is not just faster, it delivers consistent speeds and is far more reliable, stable and resilient to weather events such as flooding. Whether your household is low-latency gaming, watching Strictly on BBC iPlayer or running critical business systems, Full Fibre to the Premises is the ultimate broadband solution: https://www.openreach.com/fibre-broadband
Openreach have quoted for the 25 Maryburgh and Blairforge premises mapped out in figure one; and it is comfortably affordable with vouchers, assuming enough of the community pledge them.