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Scotland Highlands and Islands Welcome Superfast Broadband Pilot Pledge

Posted: 22nd Oct, 2010 By: MarkJ
scotland uk regions mapThe Highland Council in Scotland has today given a warm welcome to news that the UK governments Chancellor, George Osborne, has committed to supporting the development of a new "superfast" broadband pilot in the "Highlands and Islands" region.

The first clue came in Wednesday's Spending Review in which Osborne confirmed that a total of £530m would be used to help tackle the Digital Divide and bring faster broadband access to rural areas. This hinted at several rough locations for the governments superfast broadband pilot projects.

Spending Review Statement

2.122 A total of £530 million will be invested over the Spending Review period to support the UK’s broadband network, benefiting around 2 million households, including in some of the most remote areas of the UK. As part of this investment, the Government will also pursue superfast broadband pilot projects in North Yorkshire, Cumbria, Herefordshire, and the Highlands and Islands.

Councillor Ian Ross, Chairman of the Planning Environment and Development Committee, said:

"This has the potential to be a transformational project for the area enabling economic growth and social inclusion. It will aid the delivery of public services through increased web access and also help companies to grow their sales base and improve productivity across all sectors of the economy. It has been estimated that the project will deliver over £70m of additional economic output per annum for the region.

This is excellent news for the area and reflects the culmination of close working between the local authorities and Highlands and Islands Enterprise. The Highland Council views broadband availability as critical to sustainable economic growth in the region and has been working hard to make the case for investment. Today’s announcement is only a start, however, and we are keen to maintain the momentum to build as close to 100% superfast broadband coverage for the area as is possible."

Sadly the spending review did not reveal any specific projects, locations or details of any sort. However the Highlands Council appears to be very confident that the government was referring to more than the three smaller scale technology trials that will be detailed before Christmas.

It's anticipated that the deployment itself could begin within 18 months, although this is subject to on-going discussions between the local authorities and Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK).
The UK Spending Review (PDF)
http://cdn.hm-treasury.gov.uk/sr2010_completereport.pdf
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