Community Broadband in the Kyles Reaches a Key Decision: Act or Pause?

Since 2016 Kyles Community Broadband (KCB) has been working with Community Broadband Scotland (CBS) to create a fit-for-purpose superfast broadband network for the area.
Supported by CBS, KCB has recently decided to cancel an ongoing procurement process because the two bidders interested were unable to provide a satisfactory level of coverage for the community at the budgets then available (£350K). Consequently, CBS (and Highlands and Islands Enterprise) have reflected on the evidently inadequate budget and agreed that KCB can start a new procurement with a more suitable budget if we wish to.
KCB’s question is this: Do we continue with a larger budget to create a broadband network which will cover the 500+ properties? Or do we wait for a new programme presently being worked on by the Scottish Government and called R100 (or “Reaching for 100”)?
KCB and CBS would like to know what the community thinks is the better option.
KCB is making the recommendation that we ignore the R100 programme and begin a further procurement process with a much larger budget of around £1.5M.
revised_areaThe Detail of Our Options
1. Restart a new Community Broadband Project with a larger area and bigger budget: We could choose to restart our project to include a larger area (over 500 premises), where we think R100 will struggle to reach, as well as increasing the budget to £1.5M to try to get as many bids as possible, and ensuring that a robust technology will be affordable.  An indicative map of this larger area is included below.
Timescale – We would re-start the procurement process with the issue of a new State aid public consultation at the end of September, aiming to identify a preferred bidder by May 2018 with first connections expected during early 2019.  Please note: we are ‘managing expectations’ with these dates, and would hope to be able to accelerate matters.
Risk – that the procurement fails to find a satisfactory bidder and we are then at the back of the queue for the R100 programme.
2. Pause the Community Broadband Project and see what the R100 Programme can do: We could choose to withdraw from a CBS solution and enter the R100 programme. The R100 programme will look to secure suppliers for three regional lots across the country. We currently anticipate that contracts will be awarded by the end of 2018, with activity on the ground starting during 2019. There is no indication at this time as to coverage and when the KCB area can expect to see any roll-out taking place.
Timescale – We will have better information in early 2019, so we would re-convene then to see what our options are.
Risk – that the timescale stretches and broadband provision is delayed AND that when the successful bidder for our region comes to look at the Kyles Community Broadband area they struggle to reach everyone.

Procurement Survey

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The proposed list of postcodes for option one are as follows:
Additional Postcodes
PA20 0PZ, PA20 0QA, PA20 0QB, PA20 0QE, PA20 0QG, PA20 0QL, PA20 0QW, PA20 9LJ, PA20 9LN, PA20 9LP, PA20 9LR, PA20 9LZ, PA20 9PE, PA20 9PF, PA21 2AH, PA21 2BP, PA21 2EH
Original Postcodes
North Bute PA20 0QF, PA20 0QU, PA20 0QX
South Bute PA20 9NA, PA20 9NT, PA20 9NU, PA20 9NX, PA20 9PF
Toward PA23 7UL
Colintraive PA22 3AH, PA22 3AP, PA22 3AR, PA22 3AS, PA22 3AT, PA22 3AU, PA22 3AX
Glendaruel PA22 3AA, PA22 3AB, PA22 3AD, PA22 3AE, PA22 3AF, PA22 3AG, PA22 3AJ, PA23 8RG
500+ properties