Aberdeenshire Council recognises the importance of high quality digital connectivity to its citizens and has been at the forefront of efforts to improve infrastructure and services to businesses and residents in the area.
There will be a significant improvement in both broadband and mobile phone services and coverage by the end of 2017.
The council contributed £16million to the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband Programme which between April 2014 and March 2016 delivered fibre infrastructure which has enabled over 60,000 homes in Aberdeenshire to access superfast broadband for the first time.
The programme runs until the end of 2018, by which time it is projected that around 90% of premises in Aberdeenshire will be able to access a fibre broadband product offering download speeds of 24 Mbps or better.
The challenge of delivering fibre broadband in Aberdeenshire is significant as the area has around twice the national average of Exchange Only (EO) lines, which are more expensive to upgrade. The national average is 22%, Aberdeenshire’s figure is over 45%, representing over 50,000 homes.
Within the City Region Deal, Aberdeenshire Council is working to deliver ultrafast connectivity to key industrial estates.
The objective is to see infrastructure and services in place which will offer affordable high band width gigabit symmetrical up/download speed services to SMEs.
Mobile phone services
The council has also lobbied for changes in mobile phone licensing so that coverage criteria is based on geographical area rather than population, for a waiver on commercial rates for masts and aerials in sparsely populated areas and for fixed way-leave payments to enable new mast sites to be developed more readily.
The council lobbied against the proposed “right to roam” provisions advanced by the UK government on the grounds that these would not create any additional infrastructure to improve coverage and services.
The Mobile Network Operators also opposed the “right to roam “ proposals and reached agreement with the Government on a number of fronts which will greatly benefit coverage and services in Aberdeenshire by the end of 2017
A combines spend across the UK of £5bn on new infrastructure to improve coverage and services
Around 40 new masts in Aberdeenshire, servicing the 4 major network operators (Vodafone, O2, EE and Three), to improve geographical coverage and services offered.
Signal strength to be measured inside rather than outside buildings
Commitments by all the mobile operators to guarantee voice and text coverage over 90% of the UK’s land area by the end of 2017
4G services to be available to 95% of the population by the end of 2017
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Roddy Matheson, Service Manager (Industry Sectors)