Figures released by broadband comparison site, thinkbroadband, show that Edinburgh residents have the best access to ultrafast broadband. Nearly 90% of households and premises have access to ultrafast broadband, compared to 63% in Glasgow.
Although Edinburgh appears to be far ahead in terms of connectivity, there are positive signs for Scotland’s largest city. Compared to 2017, broadband accessibility has risen from 57%.
Additionally, superfast broadband is available to 99% of Glasgow premises compared to 98% in the capital. Ultrafast broadband is categorised as an internet connection capable of delivering download speeds in excess of 100Mbps (megabits per second). This can be delivered via cable or by fibre-to-the-home (FTTP).
Broadband defined as ‘superfast’ is when speeds exceed 24Mbps – again, through cable, or alternatively through fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC).
Glasgow may have a long way to go in catching up with Edinburgh, however, improvements to broadband accessibility – and speeds – are evident. Around 0.2% of homes and businesses in Glasgow still operate with an internet connection of under 10Mbps – this marks a 0.2% improvement from 2017.
On a national level, ultrafast broadband covers 46% of households and business premises in Scotland, up from 43% last year. There is, however, still work to be done in Scotland’s other cities and regions. People living in Aberdeen have significantly lower access to ultrafast connections, with only 1.1% of buildings able to provide these speeds.
Travel south to Dundee and residents in Scotland’s fourth-largest city have far greater access to ultrafast connections. More than 93% of home and businesses have access to these speeds, which makes Dundee the second-best place in Scotland for accessibility.
In West Dunbartonshire, people enjoy widespread coverage for both superfast and ultrafast broadband. 93% of households and businesses have access to the latter, while 98.9% can access superfast.
Graeme Gordon, CEO at IFB, believes that as Scotland comes to terms with a “software defined future”, ultrafast, ultra-reliable connectivity is essential.
“We live in a software defined future where just about every device, service or thing we use directly or indirectly needs to be digitally connected,” he explains. “This Internet of Things reaches everywhere and works best when you have ultrafast, ultra-reliable connectivity – wired, wireless or mobile – as the internet really doesn’t care whether you are a supplier, customer or user, it just wants to create, capture and deliver data as quickly as possible.”
Rural Communities Missing Out?
Na h-Eileanan an lar (formerly Western Isles) and Argyll and Bute are two of the worst areas in Scotland for ultrafast broadband access. In Argyll and Bute, only 0.2% of homes and businesses can access these connection speeds, while in Na h-Eileanan an lar there is no ultrafast broadband at all.
A concerted effort to boost rural broadband connectivity is underway by the Scottish Government, in collaboration with industry partners. In August, for example, remote highland communities gained access to full-fibre, ultrafast broadband services.
The communities, which are scattered across 26 miles of rough terrain, were given access to one of the UK’s fastest and most reliable broadband services. An estimated 140 homes, spanning from Achnasheen to Aultguish in Ross-shire, should be able to enjoy ultrafast broadband by the end of the year. The network has brought broadband services to around 90% of premises in Achnasheen.
Almost two-thirds of the residences will also receive future proof Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) from the £428 million Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband programme, an initiative led by the Highland and Islands Enterprise (HIE) locally, with the rest getting a full-fibre upgrade through a Community Fibre Partnership with Openreach.
This new network enables residents to access broadband speeds up to two thousand times faster than before; an increase from 0.5Mbps to 1Gbps.
Gordon believes infrastructural investment is key to ensuring Scotland’s populace stays connected; else risk falling behind.
“Outside the larger cities and areas the, the required commercial investment is difficult to justify,” he says. “However, the Scottish Government’s R100 initiative is helping to bridge this gap and is key component of our future digital economy.”
Continued investment, Gordon says, will enable the country to “get connected and to stay connected” and to help retain and attract people, businesses and innovation in the Scotland.