Every home and business will have access to superfast broadband by 2021 as a result of a £600m investment, the Scottish Government said today.
The announcement, made as part of its 2018-19 draft budget, marks the start of procurement for the Reaching 100% (R100) programme which, it said, “will deliver fast and reliable internet, with a particular focus on rural and island communities.”
Finance Secretary Derek Mackay said the capital investment will be made over the next four financial years to March 2022. The Scottish Government said its Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband programme is “on track to reach 95% fibre broadband coverage by the end of this year – with further progress being delivered throughout 2018.”
Rural Economy and Connectivity Secretary Fergus Ewing added: “This is the biggest public investment made in a UK broadband project. It is a truly transformative moment for our broadband infrastructure and a statement of our intent to make Scotland a world-class digital nation.
“Fast and reliable internet connection is vital for the economic and social wellbeing of all communities. This ambitious investment – which is more than three times what the UK Government is putting towards their own fibre broadband roll-out – will revitalise the prospects of rural areas right across Scotland.
“Building on the success of the Digital Scotland programme, we will deliver a future-proofed, national fibre network that will place rural Scotland among the best connected places anywhere in Europe.
“I am confident that the scale of our investment, and of our ambition, will attract interest from a wide range of telecoms suppliers across the UK and Europe. ”
Derek Mackay added: “I was pleased to use this year’s budget to set out our plans for the future of superfast broadband in Scotland. We will put in the money over the next four years to deliver a £600 million programme of investment, ensuring every home or business premise in Scotland has access to superfast broadband.”
About today’s announcement, the Government said:
The procurement provides gap-funding aiming to find suppliers who will connect as many premises as possible for the available subsidy, with access to superfast (30mbps) connections – by extending the national fibre network further than would have been the case under current programmes and future commercial developments alone.
Extensive supplier engagement undertaken during 2017 concluded that a single procurement for R100, containing three regional lots, will give the best chance of maximising competition and attracting the widest possible range of bids.
Although the initial R100 procurement will focus on delivering superfast access to premises, an equally important objective is that it delivers new accessible fibre in parts of Scotland that currently lacks this infrastructure