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Scotland Covered By Broadband
By: MarkJ - 30 December, 2005 (10:04 AM)

The Scottish Executive reports that every community in Scotland (378 remote and rural telephone exchange areas) now has access to an affordable broadband service, allowing the government to meet its 2005 target.

This had been the largest project of its kind in the UK and is part of the Executive's 24 million broadband initiative. More over it has taken just eight months to complete.

The project also received financial support of up to 5 million from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) programme in Scotland. It was run in partnership with Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) and Scottish Enterprise.

A contract was signed with BT in April 2005 following an open procurement exercise. This was to provide access to ADSL broadband in 378 telephone exchanges in rural and remote Scotland for which there were no plans for commercial services. This accounts for one-third of all Scottish exchanges. Only one of these exchanges is still to be fully enabled - in Foula in the Shetland Isles. However, an interim broadband solution is already providing broadband access in that area.

There are also 21 (non-commercial) exchange areas in the Western Isles, covered by a separate project called Connected Communities, led by HIE. This largely wireless network has launched services in the majority of these areas - see www.hebrides.net - with the remainder expected to receive access in the next few months.

There may be some instances where households who live distant from their exchange cannot access broadband, because of the technical limitations of ADSL (copper) technology. This 'out of reach' issue is UK-wide. Whilst the Executive is not committed to providing broadband to every household, it has however been working to identify any clusters of 'out of reach' households in Scotland where there is a demand for broadband. The Executive is developing the next steps for providing solutions to these 'clusters' over 2006, subject to criteria, including budget and value for money.

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