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SBVS on the road in North-East Scotland

Monday, 14 November 2022

Rodger Motherwell is the R100 Scottish Broadband Voucher Scheme deployment manager for the North of Scotland. In this blog, he tells us about his recent trip to meet suppliers in the North-East of Scotland.

I joined the Scottish Government’s Reaching 100% (R100) Scottish Broadband Voucher Scheme (SBVS) team as a deployment manager in March 2021. I found myself in the unusual position of joining in the middle of the pandemic, meeting my new colleagues and suppliers in my area virtually on Microsoft Teams.

Working from home has been a stark reminder of how essential a fast and secure broadband connection is on our daily lives. It’s great to be a part of the SBVS team and contributing to the R100 programme, which is providing life-changing services across Scotland.

The Scottish Broadband Voucher Scheme

SBVS offers a voucher up to £5,000 to all eligible homes and businesses that are unable to access download speeds of at least 30Mbps. The voucher acts as a subsidy to help cover new broadband installation costs. It’s also specifically designed to allow vouchers for a single property, or to be combined in a community project.

The scheme was launched in September 2020 and I like to think that it’s an essential part of the programme as it reaches properties where there are no planned connections in the R100 contracts or commercial build.

My role as deployment manager is to manage broadband supplier relationships in the North of Scotland. My typical day involves working with my suppliers around draft project submissions in addition to the operational tasks associated with the SBVS. So far, SBVS suppliers have installed over 2,500 voucher-funded connections.

After two years of online meetings, I was eager to get out and about and meet with suppliers face-to-face. With over 60 suppliers delivering faster broadband services, I recently took to the North-East of Scotland to meet with Rural Communications, Wi-Fi Scotland, Marykirk and Fibrecast.

It was fantastic being able to have face-to-face contact with these suppliers and to see first-hand some of the work they have carried out to provide broadband services to beneficiaries. While much can be achieved on Teams and via email, nothing replaces being in the moment and having a proper in-person conversation.

Rural Communications

First up I met with Peter from Rural Communications in Forres to chat through all things broadband. Living in rural Moray, Peter and his wife have a passion for making a difference in remote communities. Since joining SBVS as a registered supplier, Rural Communications have applied for many vouchers on behalf of members of the public with many more in the pipeline.

At present Rural Communications are working on their first fixed-wireless network project. Fixed-wireless is one of the technologies available through SBVS – mobile, fibre to the premises and satellite solutions can also provide a connection. The technology used to deliver a superfast broadband connection will depend on what’s available from the supplier in your area.

Wi-Fi Scotland

My next meeting was with Wi-Fi Scotland’s Rob, William and Angus. They go a long way back having met each other at school. We chatted about their legacy fixed-wireless access network, but the conversation quickly moved to the growth of full fibre.

Wi-Fi Scotland has recently gained access to code powers, which is allowing them to speed up their projects. This gives them the right to install, maintain, adjust and repair their equipment on public and private land. As I departed heading for Inverurie, Rob and Angus got back to cleaning ducts – a missed photo opportunity, but here is one of the guys.


I met with Bill, Liam and Ashley from Marykirk. Meeting Liam at their headquarters it was evident a busy early morning had been the case – a tripped power supply due to the storms had caused concern, but the back-up power supply unit had kicked in and done its job!

With Bill and Ashley both busy, I spent the morning touring Marykirk transmitter installations with Liam. It was interesting to see the scale and coverage of the operation, as the images show.



Next, I headed off to Dundee to meet with Kieran and Seb from Fibrecast. Meeting on-site let me see first-hand the issues they’ve been having. Without fail, what I’d been told prior to visiting married up with what I saw with the guys on-site.

Whilst having many customers on their fixed-wireless network, they’re clearly committed to full fibre. We discussed projects they’ve got in the pipeline, which they’re looking to submit in the coming weeks. While full fibre is ramping up, it’s good to see that they’re not ruling out future offerings on fixed-wireless access projects too.

Reflecting on my visits

It’s clear that after meeting up with suppliers that full fibre is coming to the fore, however fixed-wireless access remains an integral part of the overall broadband picture with ‘rural’ and ‘hard to reach’ properties being the main beneficiaries. Overall, I would say that the suppliers I know are delighted with SBVS.

For any other suppliers seeking to use the voucher scheme, it all comes down to finding areas where properties are voucher eligible. With 12 months to complete a project, there are many factors which can lead to delays, such as local authority and private landlord permissions, supply chain issues – with supplies of capital infrastructure – as well as potential resourcing issues. It’s a key part of the deployment manager role to keep up-to-date with supplier progress on each of their projects along with identifying any trends in challenges being experienced for discussion with the other deployment managers looking at how the SBVS can support suppliers.

I enjoyed being out on the road to visit the suppliers. I found it really worthwhile and I hope they did too. The next virtual conversation I have with them will have extra meaning having spent time with them in person and seeing their operation in full flow.

Rural Communications, WiFi Scotland, Marykirk and Fibrecast are suppliers on the R100 SBVS. For more suppliers, please visit our SBVS page.

Find out if you’re eligible for the R100 SBVS by entering your postcode into our online address checker.