The Reaching 100% (R100) programme is a commitment by the Scottish Government to provide access to superfast broadband (30 Mbps) to every home and business in Scotland.
On behalf of the Westray community, Westray Development Trust has been searching for clarity on what this means for Westray and when. To this end, we submitted a Freedom of Information request to the Scottish Government asking the following questions:
1. How will the R100 programme deliver its commitment to provide superfast broadband to premises on the island of Westray in Orkney?
2. Will Fibre-to-the-Premises be delivered to all Westray households and businesses currently with less than 30Mbps speeds by BT through the R100 programme?
3. If yes, when can work be expected to begin?
4. If no, then why will BT not be delivering superfast broadband to premises in Westray? And what alternative is proposed and why?
5. If any of the above is not yet confirmed, when can public confirmation of plans be expected?
6. And generally for North Lot premises eligible for a voucher via the Scottish Broadband Voucher Scheme, what is the reason or reasons these premises have not been included in the R100 contract?
Their response, which was publically published on the Scottish Government website is copied below:
FOI reference: FOI/202100199954
Date received: 10 May 2021
Date responded: 26 May 2021
In response to question 1 – The Scottish Government committed to extending superfast broadband access to 100% of premises in Scotland, regardless of remoteness or rurality. This commitment is being delivered through the Reaching 100% (R100) programme. Our 100% superfast broadband commitment will be delivered through three strands of activity – the £600 million R100 contracts (North, Central and South), our Scottish Broadband Voucher Scheme (R100 SBVS) and commercial coverage. Properties in Westray that are currently unable to access superfast broadband will fall into one of those three categories. The individual status of premises can be checked on our online address checker, www.scotlandsuperfast.com.https://www.gov.scot/publications/foi-202100199954/
In response to questions 2, 3, 4 and 5 – While our aim is to provide information wherever possible, in this instance the information is not available and therefore this is a formal notice under section 17(1) of FOISA that the Scottish Government does not have some of the information you have requested.
In November 2019 we announced BT as the preferred bidder for the R100 North lot contract (which includes the Orkney Islands), however this decision was subject to a legal challenge and contract signature was placed on hold until the matter was resolved. The R100 North lot contract was subsequently signed with BT in December 2020, one year later than originally envisaged.
As a result, we are not yet in a position to confirm all properties that will fall within R100 North contract build plans and the technology type that will be used to connect them. This is because BT is required to remodel its build plans to account for changes in commercial coverage. We have, however, recently updated the status of around 45,000 premises on our online address checker, www.scotlandsuperfast.com, to reflect that they are likely to be built through the R100 North contract.
In response to question 6 – During the procurement process for the main R100 contracts, operators were asked to bid on the level of coverage they could provide for the amount of funding available in each contract – in the R100 North lot £384m of public subsidy was available. It was always anticipated that some premises would not be reached via the R100 contracts and we developed the R100 SBVS to ensure superfast broadband could be delivered to these premises.
Premises that are not expected to receive a connection through either the R100 contracts or commercial investment are eligible for a main voucher through the R100 SBVS, offering a subsidy worth up to £5,000 per property. This will allow business and home owners to access superfast broadband, and can be used to cover the cost of installation across a range of superfast-capable technologies.
Further information on R100 SBVS can be found on our website, www.scotlandsuperfast.com.
You can view the response from the Scottish Government on their website here – https://www.gov.scot/publications/foi-202100199954/
Westray Development Trust is continuing to pursue clarity for the community on this subject. We will share any further updates we receive. In the meantime, the Trust will continue to push for equitable access to superfast broadband.