One Small Step…
Following a period of procurement, evaluation and negotiation there are now two contracts in place to deliver the Step Change Programme – one for Highlands and Islands and one for the Rest of Scotland. A total investment of £410 million will see superfast broadband infrastructure available to 85% of all premises in Scotland by the end of 2015-16 and 95% by the end of 2017-18, so what happens now?
With the contracts in place, there is a period of transition from procurement to deployment where the necessary resources and processes are put in place. This is as equally applicable to the supplier – British Telecommunications (BT) – as it is to the Scottish Government and Highlands and Islands Enterprise. Part of this process involves setting up a joint delivery team in a co-located office, emphasising the partnership approach to the deployment phase.
Extensive engagement is taking place with all 32 local authorities and the 2 National Parks in order to prepare for the required permissions to allow the deployment of the superfast broadband network. Any efficiencies that can be gained at this crucial stage of the process will be invested in extending the network.
Engagement with key stakeholders is vital for any programme and more so for one of this magnitude. In addition to the engagement with local authorities, briefings are taking place with MSPs, MPs, MEPs, local councillors and local broadband focus groups.
While all this is happening, engineers at BT are refining the model to further maximise coverage and deliver an efficient, cost effective deployment. This will be further refined with on the ground detailed surveys. These have already started in Highlands and Islands and will begin in the Rest of Scotland early in the new year.
For Highlands and Islands, BT is finalising details for the deployment of around 400km of subsea cables required for the deployment of Superfast Broadband to our island communities. It also expects to confirm the first areas for deployment within the next few weeks.
A dedicated programme website is currently under development with a live date before the end of October. The first stage of this development was to rebrand the Step Change Programme into Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband with the logo shown above. This single website is now the source for all information related to the programme, irrespective of there being two contracts in the background. This is to ensure a single, consistent approach to all publicly available information.
When the website goes live, it will include maps to give an indication as to when your area will be inlcuded in a roll out phase. Early in 2014, we aim to go live with a full interactive mapping tool that will give users access to even more information about deployment in your area.
In addition to the website, we also have a Twitter account (@digitalscots) and a Linked-in Discussion Group (Scotland’s Digital Dialogue). If you want to keep up to date on the most recent developments in superfast broadband, register on the website when it is launched ans you will receive regular updates on progress. You can also expect information about superfast broadband in the national and local press, via your local council and even at street level as we deploy to specific areas.
I’m pleased to report that an enormous amount of work has taken place since the contracts were signed and that work continues apace today. The first live areas are expected Spring 2014 and we will see extensive progress from that date through to the end of 2017 when the programme is expected to be completed. Until then, keep informed through the channels described above.
Senior Stakeholder Manager