Community Broadband Scotland

Community Broadband Scotland

Frequently Asked Questions

Included in this section are some frequently asked questions about CBS and the support we provide to communities, as well as some about next generation broadband in Scotland

CBS and My Community

1. What is CBS?

Community Broadband Scotland (CBS) is a £5million initiative which aims to encourage and support the development of sustainable community broadband projects, capable of delivering next generation speeds, through the use of established technologies and business models. 

2. What can CBS do for my community?

If you receive a speed of less than 2Mbps and your area is unlikely to benefit from next generation boardband as part of the Step Change programme (see below for more information on Step Change), CBS may be able to help you bring improved broadband to your community. 

We provide a range of support and assistance to help you and your community investigate, set up and deliver a community-led solution:

  • an informative website providing resources, templates and case studies
  • a telephone helpline (0800 917 3688)
  • a network of on-the-ground CBS advisers
  • a start up fund

3. Where can I find out more about the CBS Start Up fund?

You can find out about the CBS funding process here

4. What can I do to get things moving in my community?

If you and others in your area are unable to receive a standard broadband service, or this service is poor, we recommend the first thing you do is check if your area is included in any announced plans by the major service providers for upgrading services to superfast broadband (click here).    For more information on the current service from your exchange click here.  

You can find more useful links here

If no plans have been announced for your area yet we recommend undertaking a community survey to establish the current levels of broadband provision in your area. This is an important initial step as broadband speed can vary a lot within a community (the speed you receive may not be indicative of the rest of your community).  Premises closest to the exchange will probably experience the fastest speeds, and speeds will normally decrease with distance from the exchange. 

Your community survey should also include questions regarding the demand for increased broadband services and the level of support for a community-led solution (its also useful at this point to identify individuals, groups and businesses willing to become actively involved). A template survey is included on our Community Engagement page

CBS can only deal with representative community groups (e.g. an association or community council) so if you aren’t already involved in such a group it would be good to approach, identify or even form a group willing to lead a community broadband solution.

5. What if I currently receive a speed of more than 2Mbps?

CBS are concentrating on supporting those communities with the poorest broadband access, least likely to benefit from the Step Change programme.  As more details of the main procurements are released a clearer picture will emerge of which communities will be covered. 

If the majority of properties within your area have poor (less than 2Mbps) connectivity, get in touch with CBS to see if your community is eligible for CBS support.   

6. Why is a community approach required in some cases?

Commercial providers will not provide next generation broadband services to everyone.  In Scotland 18% of the population live in rural areas, which account for 94% of Scotland’s land mass*. This means that broadband deployment is particularly challenging.

Scotland’s Digital Future sets out how Scottish Government will deliver a step change in broadband connectivity, paving the way for delivery of world-class, future proofed infrastructure across all of Scotland by 2020. To this end £240million of public funds have been committed to the Step Change programme to provide infrastructure with the capacity to deliver next generation broadband to 95% of homes and businesses across Scotland.  

Although Step Change will reach further into these communities than ever before, some places may benefit from a community solution.

Community Broadband Scotland complements the Step Change programme and works to support the 5% of premises least likely to benefit from the core infrastructure deployment.   CBS is a key element of the Scotland’s Digital Future – Infrastructure Action Plan and supports these ‘hardest to reach’ communities develop their own community-led solutions to deliver improved connectivity.

There are many examples of communities in Scotland developing successful and sustainable community-led broadband initiatives. They have demonstrated that the technology is available to develop high-speed local networks. The biggest challenge is not technology, but access to affordable backhaul. This is what you need to ‘plug into’ to get a higher-speed, reliable internet connection.  CBS can help you establish the local backhaul situation.

7. What are the pioneer projects?

CBS partners identified six community projects to pioneer a diverse range of situations and challenges for local community-led broadband delivery. Each community project is receiving targeted support from CBS, to accelerate on-the-ground delivery and learning.  We will use the information we learn from working with the pioneers to:

  • influence how the CBS programme develops in the future
  • identify what resources are needed going forward
  • inform how the Start Up Fund is allocated

Alongside the pioneer projects we will be working with remote and rural communities across Scotland.

For more information about the pioneer projects visit the projects page.


 

8.

Next Generation Broadband (NGB) is high speed broadband that exceeds the capabilities of copper-based broadband infrastructure.  Speeds vary depending on the technology used (satellite, fibre, wireless etc).  Scottish Government, under their Step Change programme, want to see significant uplift in speeds, with 95% of premises across Scotland getting next generation broadband access by the end of 2017.

9. Why is high speed broadband important?

  • High speed broadband brings economic and community benefits.  It will
  • improve the remote delivery of public services
  • enable new forms of remote working
  • enable remote education opportunities (for school pupils and FE/HE distance learning)
  • enable the delivery of e-health services
  • improve access to social networking
  • improve access to cultural information and entertainment

10. What is Step Change?

Scotland’s Digital Future sets out how Scottish Government will deliver a step change in broadband connectivity, paving the way for delivery of world-class, future proofed infrastructure across all of Scotland by 2020.  To this end £240million of public funds have been committed to the Step Change programme to provide infrastructure with the capacity to deliver next generation broadband access to 95% of homes and businesses across Scotland by the end of 2017.  

Step Change is the largest digital infrastructure project ever undertaken in the UK.  The Highlands and Islands project will include 800km of new fibre routes and 20 new sub-sea cables totalling 400km.

More information about Scotland’s Digital Future and Step Change can be accessed here

11. At what stage are the two main procurement programmes?

There are two main procurement programmes in Scotland, covering the Highlands & Islands and Rest of Scotland.  These programmes aim to get superfast broadband to 95% of homes and businesses across Scotland by the end of 2017.

The Highlands and Islands contract was awarded to BT and was signed in March 2013, and rest of Scotland contract was signed in July 2013.

HIE have published an overview map of the main existing and new fibre routes across the region.  BT are currently working on the detail, and this will be released over the lifespan of the procurement programme. 

Find out more about the Highlands and Islands project here, the Rest of Scotland project here and Scotland’s Digital Future here.

Businesses

12. My business is in a rural area and is affected by poor broadband connectivity – what can CBS do for me?

If your business is based within a community where the majority of properties receive less than 2Mbps and are unlikely to benefit from the main procurement, you can work with other community members, and receive CBS support, to explore the potential of a community-led broadband solution. 

For more information about the digital economy and support for businesses in Scotland visit The Scottish Government’s website

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