Openreach (BT) has faced criticism after the operator quoted a sparse community £22,695 to bring their Gigabit capable Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) ultrafast broadband ISP technology to just 5 remote rural homes around Morton Farm, which is south of Tayport in Fife (Scotland).
At present the best that residents can hope to achieve is up to around 2Mbps via older broadband lines. Naturally they wanted something better and appear to have pursued a quote for a “full fibre” network from Openreach but, according to Fife Today, locals have been “astounded” by the proposed sum and branded it as “unaffordable“. The offer was reportedly then rejected.
In fairness the whole reason why the community is still on ADSL today is because, for commercial operators, the area would simply be economically unviable to upgrade without significant public subsidy, which we can assume was more than even the original state aid supported Digital Scotland project has been able to stomach (i.e. extremely expensive).
The quote, which works out at £4,539 per premises, may seem expensive but in the grander scheme of things it’s actually not too bad considering the significant civil engineering work that would be required to cater for such a sparse community. Suffice to say that for similar sized communities we’ve seen significantly bigger quotes than that in the past (we assume their close proximity to the town of Tayport may help).
The cost of deploying full fibre, without engaging volunteers to help build the network (e.g. B4RN’s social model), is often simply too big for traditional commercial operators and so it’s little surprise that locals have been given such a quote. This is perhaps somewhat of a reality check as such things are neither cheap nor easy to roll-out, otherwise it would have been done long ago.
Naturally those in the community are right to be frustrated, although without adopting a community build they may struggle to find a cheaper option for an FTTP deployment. Alternatively locals could choose to wait until the end of this year when the UK Government’s 10Mbps broadband Universal Service Obligation (USO) is introduced. Failing that the Scottish Government’s £600m R100 (Reaching 100%) programme may offer a solution, although it’s currently a bit delayed (here).
We have asked Openreach (BT) for a comment but the bank holiday weekend may hamper their response. It’s presently unknown whether the community could take advantage of any voucher schemes to help balance the costs or even if that was already factored into the quote.