In 2007, 62% of Scots regularly accessed the internet for personal use but by last year, that had jumped by nearly 20%. So, although nearly four in five Scots are regularly using the internet, some are having to deal with the lowest speeds, not just in the UK, but in the whole of Europe.
Under the UK Government’s Universal Service Obligation (USO), every home should be able to have or request a minimum speed of 10mbps but some communities simply aren’t receiving anywhere near this.
Today’s homeowners should expect that, when they get the keys to their new home, they’ll be adequately connected to the internet. Access to high-speed broadband should therefore be a key consideration for any developer when planning a new housing or mixed-use development; much in the same way that roads, utilities and public transport links are considered.
We believe in and have delivered on that commitment at our new community at Countesswells. Residents and businesses at Countesswells will have access to broadband speeds of 1Gbps – more than 35 times faster than the UK average. With these unparalleled speeds, a 4K movie can be downloaded in just 10 minutes, as opposed to the typical eight hours.
In what is believed to be a first for a new town development, we decided to install the fibre optic network necessary to deliver these high speeds whilst we were bringing in other services to the site, such as gas and drainage.
From the outset, we envisaged Countesswells as being the most connected community in Scotland. Ultrafast connectivity can be harnessed to grow existing businesses, attract further investment, create new businesses and enhance Scotland’s attractiveness as a place to live and work.
Providing the network at Countesswells is however just the start. How people and businesses use it; that’s the exciting bit! By installing the internal fibre network across the community, we are future-proofing the community to such an extent that households could have direct links with the services provided on site such as schools and health centres, enabling home consultations for example. We’re working closely with the local authority as part of the overall approach to place-making to see what is possible.
Businesses on-site will also benefit from the connectivity, whether it be to promote working from home or to attract businesses who rely on superfast connections to transfer huge amounts of data.
Ultimately, our hyper-fast broadband could be accessible right across the city. Communities further afield could also benefit from the networks we have installed and once fully set up we could work with the public sector to explore solutions for residents in other areas of Aberdeen to try to solve the broadband problems they are experiencing.
Local authorities and developers can work closely together to provide the connectivity needed to drive economic growth in Scotland and we believe the forward-thinking and innovative relationships that have been created at Countesswells, with partners Grain and SSE Enterprise Telecoms, should be considered across the country.