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Scotland Disappointed by UK Governments Paltry Funding for Superfast Broadband

Posted: 17th Aug, 2011 By: MarkJ
scotland uk regions mapfibre_optic_broadband_internet_cable.jpgA frustrated Scottish Government has slammed the UK governments funding allocation of £68.8m for improved internet access services as having fallen "short of the expectations of the Scottish economy". The money will be used to help bring superfast broadband ISP services to areas where the private sector has failed to do so by itself.

The cash, which is Scotland's slice of the Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) budget (i.e. £530m until 2015), is designed to ensure that 90% of "people in each local authority area" can access a superfast broadband (25Mbps+) ISP service by 2015 (the remaining 10% will only get a minimum speed of 2Mbps).

Alex Neil, Scotland's Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure and Capital Investment, said:

"This announcement from the UK Government has fallen short of the expectations of the Scottish economy to the overall costs of broadband rollout in the remote and rural parts of Scotland. For instance the cost to deliver next generation broadband across the Highlands and Islands alone has been estimated at up to £300 million, therefore we do not regard the UK Government's allocation as a realistic contribution to meet Scotland's broadband requirements."

The Scottish Government has now been tasked with needing to consider how best to use the funds, yet even doubling the investment through match-funding (i.e. £137.60m) with the private sector would not get them close to that £300m figure. Curiously Scotland's own national digital strategy (Scotland's Digital Future), which wasn't particularly detailed when it was released back in March 2011, hinted at a lower estimate of £200m.

Alex Neil added:

"Despite today's announcement by the UK Government, there would still appear to be money remaining from their £530m broadband fund which was set aside from the [BBC] TV licence fee. I will be writing to Mr Hunt [DCMS Secretary of State] today to clarify this point, with a view to securing a better deal for Scotland."

At the time of writing Mr Neil was not able to elaborate on what "remaining" money he is referring to. A quick totalling up of yesterdays allocations across England, when combined with the cash for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, appears to show that the budget has been broadly consumed.

Mr Neil suggested that the money would still "contribute in some measure" to the fulfilment of its goals and suggested that any extra could potentially be found through "direct investment of Scottish Government funding". European funding is also another possibility.
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