Maximising digital connectivity
Digital connectivity was identified as a concern by many of the attendees and those surveyed for the Focus North conference in February 2023. To help mitigate some of these issues this guide has been provided by Focus North partner Highlands and Islands Enterprise. It is up to date as of March 2023 and is only intended to act as a guide to help understand a complex landscape – it shouldn’t be considered the only source of information, nor is it promoting any particular provider or technology.
The digital infrastructure in our region is constantly being updated. It is well worth checking whether circumstances have changed since you last looked at your connection. You must order an upgrade to your service via your provider, it is not an automatic upgrade.
The first question you should ask is how fast is my current connection? Then how fast a connection do I need? This is sometimes not as fast as you think it might need to be. A selection of guides on speed are below:
What Broadband Speed Do I Need? – Which?
What broadband speed do I need? (moneyexpert.com)
What Broadband Speed Do I Need? | Good Mbps Speed (cable.co.uk)
Broadband speeds: what you need to know – Ofcom
First have a look at these self-help articles below to see how to make the best of your current connection.
Links to a few websites which give advice on making the most of whatever broadband you have: –
Money Saving Expert https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/broadband-and-tv/boost-broadband-speed/
If this still doesn’t meet your needs the continuing roll out of fibre broadband means that availability changes over time. The first step will be to check whether you can have a cable connection. Note – it is worth checking with multiple providers what they can offer. Not all providers provide all possible options. As BT manages a large part of the network locally it is always worth checking with BT as one of these.
Please note that as advised by Ofcom, basic broadband and phone packages may be available for people on lower income at a reduced rate. It also provides the expected speed for each tariff.
Broadband Availability Checkers
Landlines (physical cable to your premises)
If a new or upgraded landline isn’t a viable option, it is well worth checking mobile Internet availability. Over recent years unlimited data packages have come down in price until they are often competitive with equivalent landline contracts.
4G home or business broadband is an internet service that uses 4G rather than a conventional fixed line. 4G home broadband is delivered via a router in your house or business which your devices will connect to. this device looks just like a landline router but has its own dedicated SIM just like a mobile phone. These routers have built in aerials but can also have an external aerial connected to the outside of your property if the signal is weak. Coverage is worth checking as even in remote areas this can be an available option. Again, it is worth checking with more than one supplier as not all suppliers offer services in all areas. Check coverage using one of the links below.
In certain geographic locations other options may be available – for example some providers offer fixed wireless access connections. These might be able to provide service if available in your area. These services tend to be specific to local geographic areas so if you do an internet search for wireless broadband for your area you may find providers that are able to offer these services in your locality.
Scottish Government has committed to a programme R100 of upgrades to ensure at least 30 Mbps to every home and business in Scotland. Contracts have been agreed to achieve this and the full roll out is anticipated to complete by 2028. About R100 | Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband
To check whether on individual address is included in this programme and when the roll out will occur follow the link below: –
Check my address | Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband
Note: -If there are/were pre-existing plans for a commercial provider to develop equivalent infrastructure these will not be included in this programme.
If you can’t get 30MBPS download and are not in a current build plan, check whether you are eligible for the Scottish Broadband Voucher Scheme (SBVS). A subsidy of up to £5,000 is available to all eligible premises and covers all direct installation costs, which is carried out by a registered supplier.
Your property could be eligible if:
Vouchers worth up to £4,500 (plus a £5000 Scottish top-up) for homes and businesses may be available to help to cover the costs of installing gigabit broadband where:
Single connections are not eligible for the scheme, only group projects. Group projects are when two or more residents and/or eligible businesses get together to combine their vouchers towards the shared cost of installation. Projects will also be subject to BDUK commercial and value for money assessments.
Your new connection speed must reach:
No improved coverage from options already outlined
For those in areas where none of the above options are available is may be possible to access Satellite Broadband services. For more information contact one of the satellite providers such as Bentley Walker https://www.bentley-walker.com/ or NorthSat https://www.northsat.co.uk/ There are also satellite products services available via the recently launched Starlink service https://www.starlink.com/
Focus North has no direct connection or influence over service providers, so we can’t assist in individual cases. However, we’d like to hear about your experience – both positive and negative. We’d use evidence gathered in this fashion to help us to work with partners to seek solutions to common problems and share these amongst the growing digital community in our area.
Send feedback to: – firstname.lastname@example.org