LEADING technology experts have heralded the entrepreneurial spirit of Scotland’s smaller communities – whose ingenuity is countering the country’s creaking network.
The millions of wires and cables which connect the nation’s homes and businesses lag well behind the modern and quicker connections used by counterparts in Europe.
In Spain, the network is 80 per cent Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) – ultra-resilient fibre-optic connections that can carry speeds more than 100 times faster than copper.
The UK currently stands at just 2-3% FTTP, with a great deal of that confined to London and the South East of England.
However, “community broadband” initiatives across Scotland have helped enable ultra-fast connections at reasonable costs per person.
Ricky Nicol, Chief Executive at Commsworld, Scotland’s largest independent telecoms firm, said: “Pockets of ingenuity have helped create community broadband initiatives, such as those in Kingussie and Ullapool.
“Here, local spirit has seen groups mobilise, collaborate and work with an alternative network provider to enable quicker connection speeds at an affordable cost.
“Likewise, fleet-footed infrastructure builders such as CityFibre have stepped up to install their own gigabit-capable pure fibre networks.
“In Edinburgh, the local council has stepped in and supported this network, helping it grow to an impressive scale, that will immeasurably benefit the capital’s schoolchildren, council workers – and its businesses.”
“So while the perception may be that we are lacking a vision on a national level, it is safe to say Scotland’s entrepreneurial spirit is bubbling away, doing what it can, where it can.
“This model should become the blueprint – with further support from government to help join the dots between communities, business and councils.”
Recent consultation by BT Openreach revealed that there is support for its FTTP ambitions from the largest communications providers, the likes of Sky, BT and Vodafone, for a large-scale FTTP enabling network.
Despite hailing the virtues of Fibre-to-the-Cabinet in the past – where a copper connection from the cabinet on the street to the premises slows speeds significantly – Openreach has now changed messaging, with FTTP being hailed as the solution that would “safeguard the UK’s position as a leading digital economy.”
However, Ricky urges caution against any over-enthusiasm following the Openreach announcement.
He added: “This is undoubtedly great news and not before time, but it’s hard to get too excited.
“The issue is that the market failures that persist have left vast swathes of Scotland with internet speeds that should have been outdated at the turn of the millennium.
“Conversely, London’s vast and intense cluster of businesses creates the economies of scale that significantly reduces the cost of an FTTP connection.
“With one dominant provider, the incentives simply are not strong enough to cover more rural areas – or even urban areas outside of central London.”
Commsworld is an Edinburgh headquartered firm, with offices in Glasgow and Aberdeen and more than 70 staff.
Founded in 1994, it supports thousands of the country’s leading organisations, in both the Public and Private Sectors, with their business-critical Internet, Data and Voice Communications.
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