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Scotland Allocates GBP120m for BT Highlands Superfast Broadband

Monday, Jun 25th, 2012 (1:21 pm) - Score 704

The Scottish Government has today allocated £120 million to help the Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) roll-out superfast broadband (40-80Mbps) services to 85-90% of homes and businesses by 2015, with an aim of reaching 100% with “world-class digital connectivity” in 2020.

Scotland recently won an additional £32m in public funding from the UK government (new total £100.8m), which came after Westminster was allegedly forced to concede that the country had not received its “fair share” of investment (here). By comparison much of today’s allocation will come directly from the Scottish government and EU funds.

According to the HIE, some 99% of the rural Highlands and Islands region can already receive a “basic broadband” service (they do not define what this is) and BT is expected to take responsibility for the related roll-out programme. This will apparently use a “broad range of technical solutions“, such as by laying underground cables and in some cases, sub-sea cables, to connect island communities.

Alex Neil, Scottish Secretary for Infrastructure, said:

Everybody in the Highlands and Islands recognises the importance of access to superfast broadband, not just for the future of our local economies but indeed for the future of our children, for our education, our health and every aspect of life in the modern world.

Highlands and Islands Enterprise, which is currently in discussion with BT, has been a driving force in developing a project to find solutions to the challenges of bringing next generation access to businesses and communities in the region. I am pleased to see a continuing commitment to work with local authorities across the region to make sure that by working in partnership, we are truly able to meet the ambitions of local people and businesses.

Whether it’s a small business competing in the global market through the use of superfast broadband, or whether it’s the granny and grandpa talking to their grandchildren in New Zealand, superfast broadband can change the lives of people for the better in these rural communities.

This substantial funding injection will bring those improvements to people across the Highlands and Islands. This only the start, with investment from local government and the private sector, we can we can continue to increase economic growth, create jobs and bring communities closer together.”

Scotland will also gain some additional funding from the £150m Urban Broadband Fund (e.g. Edinburgh has been awarded £8m-£11m by the UK government) and the £150m Mobile Infrastructure Project (MIP), although related distributions are still being finalised.

Any public funding is expected to be matched by the private sector, which should turn that £120m into around £240m.

Scotland’s Digital Future (Infrastructure Action Plan)

By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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