2. Introduction and how to respond to this consultation
Telecommunications legislation and regulation are the responsibility of the UK Government as reserved matters under the Scotland Act 1998. Despite this the Scottish Government has invested in our programmes to improve the connectivity picture in Scotland.
Where devolved powers are available the Scottish Government have considered digital connectivity within the planning system, through permitted development rights and in National Planning Framework 4, and extended rates relief on newly laid and lit fibre to a total of fifteen years.
These proposals complement existing activity, both commercial and public sector interventions, to improve digital connectivity across Scotland.
Drivers for the consultation
The position at present is that there is no requirement for a broadband connection of any speed to be available in new homes with the legislative requirement limited to the provision of passive in-building infrastructure to facilitate a connection – this could be a copper or fibre connection.
If no connection has been made available from an operator a resident is eligible to apply for a connection under the Universal Service Obligation (USO) to BT for a connection of over 10 megabits per second at a cost of no more than £3,400.
Data published by Thinkbroadband, an independent broadband news site, indicates significant progress being made towards gigabit-capable connectivity availability in new build premises. In 2022, fibre to the premise was delivered to 97.6% of new build premises in Scotland based on their data for approximately 15,000 homes. A superfast connection (a download speed greater than 30 megabits per second) was available at outset to 99.7% of premises. The full fibre figure is unchanged while the superfast figure has risen from 99.1% in 2021. We are however aware that reflects only a partial picture as it relies upon new postcodes. The broadband status of developments within existing postcodes is not captured.
Although the availability of gigabit-capable connectivity in new build homes is increasing it is important that this connectivity is available consistently throughout Scotland.
Scope of this consultation
Our proposals outlined in this consultation will amend building regulations to require developers to ensure that:
- all new build homes are installed with the gigabit-ready physical infrastructure necessary for gigabit-capable connections, where reasonably practicable;
- a gigabit-capable connection is installed in a new build home subject to a £2,000 cost cap per dwelling;
- or where a gigabit-capable connection is not being installed, the next fastest broadband connection is installed without exceeding the £2,000 cost cap.
We welcome views from everyone with an interest in delivering future proof connectivity to new build homes across Scotland.
Timetable for Implementation
Subject to the outcome of this consultation, Ministers’ would propose to introduce new requirements via amendment of Building Regulations and supporting guidance in early 2024, bringing changes into force later in 2024.
This consultation package comprises the following elements:
- The consultation document
- A Partial Business and Regulatory Impact Assessment
Scottish Government consultation process
Consultation is an essential part of the policy-making process. It gives us the opportunity to consider your opinion and expertise on a proposed area of work.
You can find all of our consultations online. Each consultation details the issues under consideration, as well as providing a way for you to give us your views – either online, by email or by post.
Responses will be analysed and used as part of the decision-making process, along with a range of other available information and evidence. We will publish a report of this analysis for every consultation. Depending on the nature of the consultation exercise the responses received may:
- indicate the need for policy development or review
- inform the development of a particular policy
- help decisions to be made between alternative policy proposals, or
- be used to finalise legislation before it is implemented.
While details of particular circumstances described in a response to a consultation exercise may usefully inform the policy process, consultation exercises cannot address individual concerns and comments, which should be directed to the relevant public body.
Responding to this consultation
We are inviting responses to this consultation by 12 December 2023. Please respond to this consultation using the Scottish Government’s consultation hub, Citizen Space. You can save and return to your responses while the consultation is still open. Please ensure that consultation responses are submitted before the closing date of 12 December 2023.
If you are unable to respond using our consultation hub, please complete the Respondent Information Form and the consultation questionnaire and return to:
Digital Connectivity Policy
The Scottish Government
5 Atlantic Quay
Handling your response
If you respond using the consultation hub, you will be directed to the ‘About You’ page before submitting your response. Please indicate how you wish your response to be handled and, in particular, whether you are content for your response to be published. If you ask for your response not to be published, we will regard it as confidential and we will treat it accordingly.
If you are unable to respond via Citizen Space, please complete and return the Respondent Information Form. If you ask for your response not to be published, we will regard it as confidential, and we will treat it accordingly.
All respondents should be aware that the Scottish Government is subject to the provisions of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 and would therefore have to consider any request made to it under that Act for information relating to responses made to this consultation exercise.
Next steps in the process
Following the closing date, all responses will be analysed and considered along with any other available evidence to help us. Responses will be published where we have been given permission to do so, and after we have checked that they contain no potentially defamatory material. Responses will be made available to the public at Scottish Government consultations. If you use Citizen Space to respond, you will receive a copy of your response by email. An analysis report will also be made available.
Comments and complaints
If you have any comments about how this consultation exercise has been conducted, please send them to:
Digital Connectivity Policy
The Scottish Government
5 Atlantic Quay
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