South Scotland

Scottish Borders superfast broadband service questioned

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A Borders councillor has said she believes people are being short-changed by a superfast broadband rollout.

Catriona Bhatia claimed that despite major investment the service was failing to live up to its name.

She said there were big differences in speeds being received by homes and businesses covered by the provision.

BT said it had invested heavily to ensure the service reached premises which would not have received it on a commercial basis.

Ms Bhatia was speaking after a report highlighted the progress made and challenges faced in improving broadband access in the south of Scotland.

Scottish Borders Council has invested £8.4m in the rollout of services across the region.

You shouldn't be getting 2MB when somebody down the road is getting 20MB and you're paying exactly the same amount of money.

Catriona Bhatia, Scottish Borders Council
Thinkstock

However, she said the results were variable.

"If you pay for your electricity, you get 240 volts delivered to your house - it should be the same for your broadband speeds," she said.

"You shouldn't be getting 2MB when somebody down the road is getting 20MB and you're paying exactly the same amount of money."

Ms Bhatia said she felt the local authority was not getting the provision it had paid for.

"We have also invested a large sum of public money in this to get a contract that would deliver 94% superfast broadband across the Borders," she added.

"Not everybody within that 94% is getting the same level of service - I think it is actually a bit of a scandal and some further investigation needs to be done."

'Many factors'

A BT spokeswoman said it had invested £126m in the Digital Scotland rollout on top of its commercial investment.

She said that the four-year programme was only just past its halfway point and had already benefited more than 23,600 premises in the Borders and more than 41,000 in Dumfries and Galloway.

"Every phone line is different and many factors can affect the speed of broadband, ranging from the length of the line from the fibre-enabled street cabinet, to faulty routers and existing wiring or equipment in people's homes," she said.

"When someone decides to move to a fibre-based service, their service provider should give an indication of what speed they can expect.

"If their service doesn't meet expectation, this should be reported to the service provider in the first instance, so they can investigate the issue."

She added that work was ongoing to improve the service to some homes which might have slower speeds at the moment.

"Phone lines globally are subject to the laws of physics which mean the signal does deteriorate over long distances and we've always been very open about that," she said.

"BT is working on technology to deliver faster broadband speeds over long copper lines at the moment."


Do you live in the Borders or Dumfries and Galloway and have or want to get superfast broadband? What is your experience of the service? Is the area being short-changed or is it seeing major benefits from significant investment? Email your thoughts to selkirk.news@bbc.co.uk

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