Broadband Forums - Frequently Asked Questions

Over the summer recess Andrew Bowie MP undertook a series of Broadband Forums across the constituency of West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine. This document provides answers to the most frequently asked questions. The questions which were asked most, are answered first before the specific questions from each broadband forum.


  1. There was a request for further clarity on how the USO will operate, and how it will be enforced – At the bottom of this page there is a link to a briefing paper on the Universal Service Obligation which explains fully how this will work.
  2. What other providers are there of rural internet services? – Andrew has met with and Caleycom both who offer a mixture of non-fibre high speed internet access. Scott Gould was also mentioned as a provider operating around Upper Deeside.
    Given the increasing speed of mobile internet, it is also advisable to check if 4G is available in your area, EE through the Home Office emergency services contract are opening masts in the North East frequently.
  3. Is mobile internet more expensive than wired internet – Marginally, it will depend on provider, but many people reported that the price difference was not considerable given the fast speeds. Some people did find the ‘data cap’ limiting.
  4. When do EE allow other providers access to the mast? – The new EE masts are being installed as part of the UK Emergency Services Contract. Within the contract there is an agreement that EE allow other suppliers to use the masts, it is understood that the length of time between ’going live’ and opening to other suppliers is not a long period but we are seeking further clarification on exactly how long.
  5. How many people across West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine are ‘passed by’ fibre – Please find below some photo’s that demonstrate the coverage levels across the constituency, then broken down by ward. As noted at the broadband forums, ‘passed by’ fibre does not always mean that you will be able to receive fibre speeds.


  1. There is an issue with connectivity from Charleston Crescent in Aboyne, it is perceived that this issue is due to exchange only lines, and the distance from the exchange. – Andrew has written to BT Openreach/DigitalScotlandto get more information regarding the area. 
  2. The new-build houses in Finzean are currently connected with copper lines to the exchange only – Andrew has written to BT Openreach/DigitalScotland to gather more information, he has also reached out to Aberdeenshire Council to ascertain if broadband infrastructure was in the initial plans for the homes.

  3. The line to Ballogie was renewed with a copper cable, even though the Ballogie cabinet should be getting upgraded to fibre at an unknown date. – Andrew has written to BT Openreach/DigitalScotland to seek clarity on the situation in Ballogie, specifically when the cabinet will be operational as there have already been significant delays.


  1. Laurencekirk cabinets are oversubscribed, meaning people who should be able to purchase a fibre connection are not able to – Andrew is liaising with Aberdeenshire Council to ensure that upgrades to all oversubscribed cabinets are completed as quickly as possible.

  2. Luthermuir cabinet was installed in the wrong location, meaning far fewer houses get access to fibre than was initially planned, there is a second cabinet planned, but no information has been forthcoming – The senior fibre project manager has confirmed categorically that the new cabinet for Luthermuir is in the plans and is being actively worked on. The cabinet will serve premises across the village. They have assured us that everything is moving ahead as planned.

  3. More guidance is needed for people when they are determined to be “too remote” to receive wired broadband, clarity was also needed on what constituted “too remote” – The House of Commons Library have informed Andrew that the term “too remote” is in relation to areas where the cost of implementing full fibre is in excess of the cost threshold for providing the new infrastructure. This will change as part of the new Universal Service Obligation, there is a link at the bottom of this page to a briefing paper on the Universal Service Obligation which explains fully how this will work.

  4. It was noted that the competitive dialogue scheme that was currently used for broadband procurement in Scotland was not working – Andrew has liaised with Members of the Scottish Parliament to ensure that they are aware of the deficiencies of the current method, he has received assurances that it will be discussed further at Holyrood.

  5. Who had overall control of broadband/broadband delivery – Broadband is a reserved matter by the UK Government, however the delivery of fibre to the cabinet broadband rollout was devolved to the Scottish Parliament. Moving forward the UK Government plan to work directly with local authorities regarding broadband roll out in Scotland, this has already been working successfully south of the border.  

  6. What is the cost of running fibre along the side of a road? – Andrew has made enquiries with BT as to the cost to lay fibre, however since this is business specific information, he does not expect BT to provide a comprehensive answer.

  7. BT have poor communication with the community– Andrew agrees that in many cases BT has been exceedingly poor in communicating with local communities. He will bring this up directly with the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. 

  8. Telephone signal in Luthermuir is so poor that a mobile smart meter is not usable – Andrew has brought this up with the nearest mast owner in the area. He has also enquired with EE to see if any masts (that are planned to start operating due to the emergency service’s contract) will be activated soon.


  1. How achievable was the USO – At the bottom of this page there is a link to the briefing paper on the Universal Service Obligation which explains fully how this will work.

  2. 40 houses in Tough do not have access and more information is needed as to when the rollout is happening – Andrew has written to BT Openreach/DigitalScotland to gather more information.


  1. Concerns were raised over whether Strachan would be like Garlogie (‘passed by fibre but without access to fibre – Andrew has written to BT Openreach/DigitalScotland to try and ascertain more information regards to the situation in Strachan.

  2. Caleycom (private internet provider to rural homes and businesses) are going to have to pay business rates on every mast, even though they provide an invaluable service to homes and business – Andrew has written to the Scottish Government and is seeking clarity on this matter urgently, stressing the severe business implications it would have on Caleycom if they have to pay business rates for each mast.

  3. Question regarding who Aberdeenshire Council would select to carry out broadband work for the next phase of broadband rollout, it was suggested that the contract should be awarded to a local business – Andrew commented that he would liaise with the council, but that it would be a decision for council members of the Infrastructure Services Committee in due course.

Link - universal service obligation (USO) for broadband


If there is a community that cannot get access to high speed internet, then if possible write to Andrew as a community/community council, this will all be fed back to the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to assist in making broadband decisions.

If you have an individual problem with broadband, or would like further clarity on any of the answers provided above then please email

All replies from BT Openreach and Digital Scotland will be posted here when a reply is received.