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Cupar affordable housing scheme misses out on ultrafast broadband

Openreach provides free fibre-to-the-premises broadband for housing developments of over 30 units
Openreach provides free fibre-to-the-premises broadband for housing developments of over 30 units

An affordable housing scheme in Cupar is to be denied the ultra-fast broadband connection promised to other new residential developments.

The 49 homes being built in Cupar’s Pitscottie Road will be able to access superfast broadband, but not through the superior connection the telecommunication commits to providing free of charge to estates of that size.

Openreach, part of the BT Group, provides fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) connection which requires no copper cable for developments of more than 30 homes.

However, it is to provide the slower fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) connection for the Kingdom Housing Association site.

It blamed the date the scheme was registered, but North East Fife MSP Willie Rennie expressed frustration.

He said: “I am astonished that BT have failed to meet their promise that all new housing developments of 30 homes or more should be equipped with fibre broadband cables directly to the door.

“To install old-fashioned and slow copper cables is incredibly short-sighted.

“I can just understand why it is difficult to install FTTP for existing houses because of all the reworking that would be required but failure to fit the modern fibre cables into new homes just seems daft.

“We need an urgent explanation on what has gone wrong and what plans they have to deliver on their promise.”

An Openreach spokeswoman said until November last year new housing schemes needed to have 100 or more units to be eligible for free FTTP.

She said: “At the time it was registered, the Pitscottie Road development did not qualify for our offer of free FTTP for developments of 30 homes and more.

“However, developers have always been able to work with us to install any technology they wish on a commercial basis.

“Given that the new homes are currently not expected to be occupied until next year, we’ve contacted the developer to further discuss the options.”

The cabinet planned, she said, would offer broadband speeds of up to 80Mbps.

She added: “We met with the planning and economic development teams at Fife Council earlier this week to discuss the benefits of FTTP for all new developments, including social housing.”

Bill Banks, chief executive of KHA, said: “Unfortunately at the time of registration, BT’s FTTP roll-out was not available to our affordable housing development at Pitscottie Road, Cupar.

“The new housing will however be served by FTTC, which will enable new tenants to order superfast broadband.

“The project is now at a relatively advanced stage and although BT have still to contact us regarding this matter, it is probably unlikely that any changes could be made at this stage which would not result in significant rework on site, increased costs and delays to the completion of the new homes, given that some of our new homes will be ready for occupation before Christmas 2017.

“When BT contact us we will however be able to consider the options and assess the implications.”

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