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Frequently Asked Questions

Answers to the most commonly asked questions about the Step Change Programme

1. What is next generation broadband?

Next Generation broadband (NGB), sometimes called 'superfast' broadband, is the next generation of broadband technology.

Significantly faster than the services most of us use today, next generation broadband uses fibre optic cable. Traditional broadband uses copper telephone lines. Next generation broadband usually means anything over 24 Megabits per second (Mbps). Usually it can deliver upload and download speeds between 40Mbps to 100Mbps. As technology develops, it is likely that even faster speeds will be achieved.

Although not strictly 'next generation', high speed broadband can be delivered using other technologies. Radio-wireless, satellite and advanced copper solutions can also be used to deliver faster broadband services.

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2. Why is next generation broadband better?

Next generation broadband is faster and can deliver more data. Current broadband services, delivered over copper telephone cables, can achieve speeds as high as 20 Mbps. However, this type of broadband is known as a distance-limited technology.

This means that someone who is a long way from the local telephone exchange won't enjoy the same speeds as someone living much closer. The length of cable between you and the local exchange directly affects the speeds you will be able to receive.

Fibre-optic cable uses a completely different type of technology. Each cable is made up of fibres as thick as a human hair. Although incredibly fine, these fibres can transmit huge volumes of data over very long distances.

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3. Can I get next generation broadband?

Next Generation broadband is being rolled out across the Rest of Scotland (excluding Highlands and Islands) over the next two years. By the end of this rollout, it is anticipated that both Dumfries and Galloway Council and Scottish Borders Council areas will reach approximately 95% coverage.

The South of Scotland (SoS) Broadband Programme Team is leading on a demand registration exercise. You can register by clicking on this link and taking two minutes to complete the survey:

The results of the survey (i.e. postcode data) are then sent to the Scottish Government to demonstrate the high levels of demand demonstrated in the South of Scotland. The Scottish Government has now completed its Procurement Process and appointed BT as the Supplier. BT will now undertake detailed planning and rollout plans to deliver the infrastructure to the South of Scotland.

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4. Why should I register demand ...

... if I'm in the 95%? Once the Procurement Process is completed, the Supplier will then develop a Rollout Plan, complete with phases - the level of demand may influence the supplier to come to your settlement sooner if high levels of demand have been demonstrated.

... if I'm in the final 5%? If your settlement lies within the final 5%, then the community will have to work with the South of Scotland Broadband Project Team and Communities Broadband Scotland (CBS) to find a suitable solution that can feed back into the National Infrastructure. This will involve negotiations with suppliers to deliver a solution to your community. If high levels of demand can be demonstrated within that community, the supplier may contribute to the project costs if they see a potential return on their investment from the high levels of demand.

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5. Why do I need faster broadband...

... as an Individual? For education purposes; streaming TV, music, interactive gaming; Tele-care / Tele-health initiatives; Skype or other VOIP products; multi-device access

... as a Business? To send and receive data within e-mails quicker; download files faster; virtual working; tele-working; Video and data conferencing

... as a Community Group? Better access to public services; support for community life; allows people to become more active within their community; quick access to update websites to keep local members informed of community meetings, papers, etc.

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6. When will we get the infrastructure?

The Scottish Government's Procurement Process has been completed. The Supplier will now be undertaking detailed planning and survey works, before work begins on the ground. The physical implementation phase is expected to begin in early 2014. It will take approximately two years to install the infrastructure.

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7. How is the project being funded?

The Scottish Government is funding the rollout to 75% coverage of each Local Authority area. The SoS Broadband Project Team has received funding approval for an additional £21m (£12.6m in Dumfries and Galloway and £8.4m in Scottish Borders). The ambition for this extra funding was to increasecoverage levels to 85% coverage in each of the two Local Authority areas. However, BT hase announced that this additional funding will now reach 95% rollout across the South of Scotland.

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8. How fast is Next Generation Broadband?

The type of connection you have to fibre-optic broadband determines the kinds of speed you can enjoy.

Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC) uses fibre optic cable from the telephone exchange to the street cabinet, which is like a junction box. A short length of copper cable connects your premises to the street cabinet. Speeds between 40 Mbps and 80 Mbps can be achieved using Fibre to the Cabinet.

A faster connection, known as Fibre To The Premises (FTTP), uses fibre cable all the way from the exchange to your local street cabinet then to your house. Speeds of over 100Mbps can be realized using FTTP. 

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9. What is fast copper?

This is an enhanced version of a technology known as Asynchronous Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL). Using more powerful equipment in the exchange it increases broadband speeds up to 20Mbps. 

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10. What's the difference between fibre, mobile, wireless and satellite broadband?


Fibre broadband is delivered through thin glass pipes known as fibre optic cable, using waves of light. This technology is generally regarded as the successor to DSL broadband, which is delivered over the copper telephone network. DSL broadband speeds are limited to around 24 Mbps.

Fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) and Fibre to the home (FTTH) are the two main methods of fibre broadband deployment in the UK. Current fibre services on the market offer speeds ranging from 40 Mbps to 100 Mbps, with faster services being trialled.


Mobile broadband is delivered through the mobile phone network. Current mobile broadband services (3G) offer broadband speeds broadly comparable with current fixed-line services - around 7 or 8 Mbps. The fourth generation of mobile broadband technology, (4G), is currently being developed. It is also known as LTE (Long Term Evolution). Theoretically it can provide bandwidth of up to 100 Mbps, but 'real-life' speeds will probably be determined by how close you are to a mobile base-station and the number of users accessing the service.


Wireless broadband is delivered through radio waves. Developments in fixed wireless access are concentrated on WiMax (Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access) technology. WiMax technology is currently capable of speeds up to 75 Mbps, whilst the latest versions under development could offer even faster speeds.


Satellite broadband is delivered by a satellite in orbit around the earth which communicates with a computer via a satellite dish on the person's premises. The capability of current satellite broadband services is around 10 Mbps, however, the next generation could potentially deliver speeds of up to 50 Mbps.

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11. How can I get a better broadband service?

Your Internet Service Provider will be able to advise on whether it is possible to obtain better broadband speeds from your local BT exchange, perhaps by moving to a different package.

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12. I'm not happy with the service from my supplier / provider: what can I do? 

If you have been in touch with your network supplier or internet service provider, and feel you are not making satisfactory progress, you may wish to consider contacting the regulator Ofcom. 

Ofcom is the communications regulator - it regulates the TV and radio sectors, fixed line telecoms, mobiles, postal services, plus the airwaves over which wireless devices operate. Ofcom Scotland is based in Glasgow on 0141 229 7400.

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13. How do I find out what is happening in my area?

The South of Scotland (SoS) Broadband Project Team has a website which will host all of the local information required, with links back to the Scottish Government Digital website. All local announcements will be uploaded onto this website to keep everyone up-to-date.

Or follow the progress on Twitter @SoSBroadband or on Facebook page (South of Scotland Broadband)

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14. Slow broadband speeds

During peak times, such as the early evening, broadband speeds usually drop, as more people are online. Later in the evening and during the day, speeds typically improve. 

If you think your broadband speed is less than it should be, there are a number of practical things you can do: 

1) Check there are no faults on your telephone line

Faults can be a cause of reduced broadband speeds. Contact your internet service provider to check there are no faults on your line.

You should also test your current broadband speed and measure this against what your Internet Service Provider thinks you should be able to receive.

2) Wi-fi routers and wiring

Use of 'Wi-Fi' routers has been shown to reduce broadband speeds by up to 30%. A wired connection from your broadband master socket to your computer may provide an increase in speeds. Having several devices simultaneously using your broadband connection (e.g. computers, gaming consoles, tablets, iPods, smartphones etc) will reduce broadband speeds for everyone.

Electrical wiring can cause interference for broadband. BT sells a device known as an i-Plate, which is fitted inside your BT master socket that helps to ensure your broadband speed is as fast as it can be.

Finally, check the cabling you are using to connect your equipment and ensure software is up-to-date on your computer. Equally, if you are using a wireless router, check that its firmware is also up-to-date. Your Internet Service Provider should be able to provide advice on this.

3) Testing your broadband speed

There are many online broadband speed checkers available online. Most simply test your speed at a single moment in time.

On satellite connections, most speed testers will not give accurate results. The supplier will be able to advise on how to accurately capture your broadband speed and provide assistance if there are any technical problems. Information from a broadband speed tester will show the speeds you receive. This can be compared to what your exchange delivers and what speeds BT estimate your line should receive.

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15. What can my community do if it is in the final 5%?

Community Broadband Scotland (CBS) is a one-stop-shop service for rural community groups, providing them with the information and advice they need to find solutions for broadband delivery in their areas. 

A fund of £5 million is being made available over three years to support the project.   CBS will provide a suite of support mechanisms including advice, guidance and toolkits; an online and telephone resource; a network of staff on the ground delivering hands on advice and support locally to communities; and a Rural Seed Fund.

CBS will initially be targeted at communities in the Final 5% of the population least likely to benefit from a next generation broadband (NGB) solution under the Scottish Government's Step Change Programme. CBS will provide an opportunity for those communities to take greater ownership, progress more quickly and trial innovative technology and business models.

CBS is a partnership between Scottish Government, Highlands & Islands Enterprise (HIE), Scottish Enterprise, COSLA and Local Government.  HIE will be the key delivery agent for this programme across Scotland. 

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16. What support is available to Community Groups?

As well as advice and practical support, communities will be eligible to apply for seed funding under the initiative to enable them to obtain greater access to the internet in their area. It is not intended that Community Broadband Scotland (CBS) will provide 100% funding for community projects. An important part of CBS will be to provide advice and guidance on the range of financial issues and to help communities to identify and source funding.

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17. How does my community apply for CBS funding?

The CBS officers are currently working with six pioneer community projects to deliver solutions to final 10-15% areas. The CBS are working with these communities to help them identify broadband solutions for their area and assist them in delivery.  The learning extracted from this will inform wider roll out and refine the learning and advice offered to communities. Bob Murison is the CBS officer for the South of Scotland.

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18. Who will own the infrastructure?

As a gap funded intervention procurement, BT will own the infrastructure.

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19. Who will contract the work?

The Scottish Government will enter into a single contract for delivery of the combined National, Local and Additional Priorities. Under State Aid, the contract will run for 7 years from the date of the final installation.

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20. What do we do now?

Register your interest

The Demand Registration survey is on the South of Scotland Alliance (SoSA) website for people to register their demand for improved broadband - South of Scotland Broadband Registration

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