The Community Broadband Scotland (CBS) team consists of 17 members of staff, located throughout Scotland. Each of our six locally-based CBS advisers cover a specific geographical area, where they work with and assist communities who have expressed an interest in pursuing a community broadband project, guiding them through the various project stages.
What we do
CBS offers advice, guidance and financial support to communities across Scotland as they pursue a community-led broadband solution. CBS can provide capital funding to enable communities to acquire the assets and digital infrastructure they need to benefit from better broadband provision in a sustainable and robust way.
CBS is led by Highlands and Islands Enterprise in partnership with:
CBS is funded through both core Scottish Government funds as well as receiving financial support from the Scottish Rural Development Programme (SRDP).
What help can I expect from CBS?
CBS will work with you to determine the current level of connectivity in your area. If there are postcodes in your area that are not being served by a commercial provider or your area is not in the scope of the DSSB programme, we will support you to investigate the potential of creating your own community broadband network.
Working with a locally-based CBS adviser, we will help you to understand the various technical options, develop a potential business model and where appropriate, we will help you to procure a supplier for your broadband network. We will continue to work with you for some time after the completion of your project to ensure your network continues to run smoothly.
What speeds can I expect from a community broadband project?
Wherever possible, a CBS project aims to deliver Next Generation Broadband speeds (sometimes described as superfast), which is defined as above 30mbps to 90% of users at peak times.
Given that CBS works with communities in some of the most remote, rural and geographically-challenging areas of Scotland, there are many different factors that can affect the speed a subscriber will receive. These can include the nature of the topography or the quality of the link to the main connection line, often referred to as backhaul.
What technologies are used in a community broadband project?
The technologies employed for a CBS project vary depending on local circumstances as well as what represents best value for money. Often, the technologies used tend to be microwave wireless transmitters and receivers. In exceptional cases, fibre to the premise (FTTP) is used.
How much does it cost to subscribe to a community broadband project?
The amount it costs to subscribe to a community-led broadband initiative will vary according to local circumstances and the business model adopted by the community group. Some CBS-funded projects have been able to offer connections for free whilst others have charged as much as a £250 installation fee.
Monthly costs also vary but must be in line with regulatory guidance published by Ofcom. Generally, the cost would not greatly exceed what a consumer would pray to be connected to a standard internet service provider.
How do I know if my community is eligible for a community broadband project?
If my community takes on a CBS project, can I still order services from my current ISP?
To be eligible to receive CBS funding, your community must be in an area that will not receive a Next Generation Broadband service from any commercial supplier within the next three years.
Therefore, whilst you would still be able to order a standard broadband service from your current ISP, the only network that would be able to offer your superfast speeds in your area would be through the community-led broadband project funded by CBS.
How do we know which type of Legal Entity to form?
There are many factors to take into account when considering the legal entity might wish to form to take forward a CBS project. CBS always encourages a community group to take out their own legal advice regarding this matter. However, we have also created a handy help guide that gives guidance on the different legal structures.
What’s the difference between DSSB and CBS?
Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband (DSSB) are responsible for providing Next Generation Broadband to 95% of Scotland by the end of 2017. They work in partnership with BT to roll-out fibre across Scotland.
Community Broadband Scotland (CBS) works with the communities within the remaining 5% who will not benefit from the main-fibre roll out and help them to tackle their own connectivity issues by creating their own community broadband solutions.
What’s the difference between CBS and the BT Fibre Partnership?
Community Broadband Scotland (CBS) is funded by the Scottish Government and helps communities tackle their own connectivity issues by creating their own community broadband solutions. As well as advice and expertise, CBS also provides funding for each stage of a community broadband project, including 89% of the capital costs of a project.
The BT Fibre partnership works with areas that will not benefit from the main DSSB programme by quoting how much it will cost to get fibre to the community. The community is expected to pay for a percentage of the cost, depending on how much BT contributes to the project.
What postcode areas are covered in a CBS project?
Any postcodes that will not benefit from the main DSSB programme in a particular area have the potential to be served by a community broadband project. Additionally, postcodes where the full number of premises who are not due to get speeds above 24mbps can also be considered.
How do I find out more information about the main fibre roll-out?
You can access information about the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband roll-out by visiting their website here.
If you live in the Highlands and Islands region, Highlands and Islands Enterprise are leading a £146m project to deliver superfast broadband to 84% of premises by the end of 2016. You can visit their website here at www.hie.co.uk/digital
How can I find out if there is a community broadband project in my area?
You can check out our project map here or make an enquiry through our website here. Additionally, we make every approval of funding available on our website, which you can find here.
Can I still benefit from the main fibre roll-out if my community takes on a community broadband project?
As the main DSSB fibre roll-out is partly funded by the Scottish Government, European funding rules do not permit postcodes to receive government subsidy twice. Therefore, where a CBS project is built, this area will be removed from the scope of the DSSB fibre roll-out. However, it is important to note that CBS only funds projects which would not benefit from the main DSSB roll-out and therefore, your community would not have been part of the DSSB programme.
Will any new jobs be created or any existing jobs protected as a direct result of the project (e.g. engineering jobs)?
For some CBS-funded projects, the business model adopted by the community can involve the creation of some jobs to be retained for the on-going management and maintenance of the network. However, the number of jobs created is often small and are offered on a part-time basis.
What is European State Aid?
European State Aid is a set of rules that govern how nations within the European Union can award funding to commercial operations, such as CBS networks. As CBS is funded by the Scottish Government, the funding we provide is governed by European State Aid legislation, which will have an influence on your project depending on how it progresses. Rules governing this are complex but CBS has provided a helpful guide on State Aid, which you can access here.
How do I know a community broadband solution is future-proofed?
Any network funded by CBS must be future-proofed. You will be supported to ensure this by a team of technical experts which CBS will fund as well as ensuring there is enough money available in the on-going operation of the network so that continual improvement and upgrade is possible.
How do I know that the technology CBS funds is robust and reliable?
CBS funds a team of technical experts that will look at your community’s unique requirements and ensure that the technical solution proposed is as robust and secure as it can be.
Does my community have to build the network?
When considering a CBS-funded broadband solution, there are many choices available to your community, from a community self-build to a supplier design, build and operate. See our helpful guide, ‘Your Choices’ for more information.
What happens if my community no longer wants to run the project?
There are several options that could be investigated. For example, you could try to find a commercial operator who would run the network on your behalf. You could decommission the network or find another community network to merge with. One of the fundamental benefits of having a CBS-funded network is that it is in community ownership and therefore, you’re in control. In the first instance, if you are experiencing difficulties, contact your CBS adviser.
We’ve been through the CBS process and we don’t want a community broadband solution. What are our options?
You can check out the availability of broadband in your area by using DSSB’s postcode checker here.
What if the commercial operator of a CBS-funded project goes bankrupt?
The fundamental benefit of having a CBS-funded network is that it is in community ownership and therefore, you’re in control. If a commercial operator ceases to trade, there are many options available to you, for example, finding a new commercial operator or running it yourself.
Do I need to know how to design a network?
No. CBS had a range of support available to guide through what technical options will be best for your community. Your CBS adviser will help you with this.
How much effort is involved in a CBS project?
This amount of effort required to undertake a CBS project depends on the type of network model the community chooses to adopt. Where a community decides to build and operate their own network, this can require a considerable amount of volunteer resource.
Conversely, if a community chooses to contract a commercial supplier to design, build and operate the network, this will require less volunteer effort. CBS has created a help guide that will allow you to explore all of the models in detail and help decide which model would be best-suited for your community.
Why can’t I just get fibre to my house through a CBS-funded project?
CBS has a limited amount of funding available and our priority is to generate the greatest impact possible and represent the best value for money. Generally, installing fibre to every premise is very expensive and only in exceptional circumstances does it represent best value for money.
If my project goes ahead and is de-scoped from BT, can I still use my phone line?
Yes. If you are de-scoped from the main DSSB programme, this means that you will not be able to receive a superfast service from the Openreach network for the duration of the community broadband contract. However, this will have no effect on your standard telephone line services.
Why do I need to write a business plan for my community broadband project?
To be eligible for CBS funding, it is necessary for a community to demonstrate that their network will be financially sustainable and generate enough money to be future-proofed. It is also important to capture how a community broadband network fits in with the wider aspirations of the community.
Fundamentally, a CBS-funded network is always owned by the community and therefore, it is crucial for the community to have a plan in place to maintain their asset. To assist with this, CBS has written guidance on how to write a good business plan. Additionally, your CBS adviser as well as ‘Just Enterprise’ can help you through this process.
Why do I need to undertake market research?
When drawing up a business case, it is vital to understand who might buy into what your project offers and how much they would be willing to pay for it. Market research will help to inform the business model you choose to adopt, as well as giving you the reassurance that a potential customer base exists within your community.