Legal dispute over R100 resolved

A legal dispute which held up the roll-out of the ambitious R100 superfast broadband programme has been resolved.

But councillors have been warned consumers are unlikely to see any improvements before the end of this year, despite the introduction last month of a voucher scheme aimed at helping households achieve faster speeds.

Project manager of Shetland Telecom Marvin Smith addressed Tuesday night’s meeting of the Association of Shetland Community Councils.

A paper before members warned: “The voucher scheme was announced with no certainty that the court case would be resolved.

“The database holding all the addresses of eligible premises has not been updated, nor will it be able to be updated before the actual contract is awarded.

“It is unlikely that the contract will be awarded before January/February of next year because significant changes to the scope will be required (the original scope is now three years old).”

Members of Shetland Islands Council are due to discuss broadband issues at their meeting on Wednesday morning.

A report by development manager Thomas Coutts warns it is “not clear” what the end of the legal dispute will mean for the rollout of R100 in the isles.

“It appears unlikely that the contract will be awarded before early 2021.”

It comes three years after the SNP administration announced R100 with an aim to provide 100 per cent coverage of super fast broadband, of over 30Mbps.

The announcement generated interest from predominantly rural areas such as Shetland which suffer from poor broadband speeds.

Contracts were tendered in three geographic lots, with BT and Gigaclear submitting bids for the “north lot” – which includes Shetland.

The contract was awarded to BT, but Gigaclear submitted a formal complaint. The dispute was resolved last week.


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