The Scottish government has earmarked another £5m to help with the rollout of broadband services to some of the remotest regions in the country, as closing the digital divide remains a key concern for politicians.
The Community Broadband Scotland scheme will use the money to provide local communities with advice and support on bringing broadband to their areas, as well as funding that can be used to secure further grants from other areas, such as Broadband Delivery UK.
A telephone and website support service will go live from October to help those applying for funding to gather more information on how to best proceed.
The funding will initially focus on a small number of pilot community projects before being opened up to other interested areas in Scotland.
Cabinet secretary for infrastructure and capital investment Alex Neil said that the latest funding round underlined the commitment of the Scottish government to provide all citizens with broadband access.
"Everyone recognises the importance of access to broadband to ensure that our local communities flourish. Broadband should not be considered a luxury in rural areas; it is essential to stimulate the growth of the local economy," he said.
"Increasing access to broadband is a key priority area for the Scottish Government, and we are currently progressing plans to develop a world class digital infrastructure by 2020."
Alex Paterson, the chief executive of the Highlands and Islands Enterprise, one of the remotest areas of Scotland, backed the funding as another key stage in the development of Scotland's digital infrastructure.
"This is an important new initiative which will help communities develop innovative solutions to bring fast, reliable broadband services to some of Scotland's most rural locations," he said.
"The seed fund will provide the help communities need to ensure Scotland has a world class digital network by 2020."
The Highlands and Islands region of the country secured funding of £120m earlier this year for the rollout of services in the area, which encompasses islands such as Orkney and Shetland.
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