The Scottish government has announced funding of £264m for the rollout of superfast broadband across the entire country, to ensure that 95 percent of homes and businesses can access high speed services by 2017.
The project involves funding from BT to the tune of £106.7m as well as £50m from the Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) project and £50.7m from local authorities. The Scottish government is putting up funding of £36.4m while the final £20.5m is from a European grant. This follows on from a £146m partnership announced earlier this year to bring superfast services to the remote Highlands and Islands area of Scotland.
Deputy first minister for Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, said the funding was a huge boost for the nation and would enable it to compete on a global stage.
“Today's announcement signals the start of one of the most ambitious infrastructure projects in the whole of Europe. It will connect communities across rural and urban areas, providing a platform for future economic development and regeneration,” she said.
"Next generation broadband enables businesses to compete on the international stage. It has the potential to transform the way in which we educate our children, provide health and social care and deliver our public services. It provides Scotland with a platform upon which we can build and sustain a world-class digital country.”
Communications minister Ed Vaizey welcomed the news, claiming it is vital that the whole of the UK is able to benefit from superfast services.
“The complex and remote landscape of much of Scotland makes this one of the largest and most challenging projects in the nationwide rollout of superfast broadband,” he said.
“This contract, signed today, marks the beginning of a transformation of broadband services for the population of southern and mid Scotland. Together with the already agreed Highlands and Islands project, it will be instrumental in driving growth and boosting local economies throughout the country.”
The investment comes amid criticism of the public funding setup for broadband in the UK, after the National Audit Office slammed the government for its handling of the rollout of broadband services, as the project is set to deliver its goals late and without sufficient competition to guarantee value for money.
Scotland is hoping to market itself as a leading digital hub in the future, with the nation also touting its cool year-round climate as an ideal location for data centres by offering natural cooling, akin to nations such as Sweden that are now being favoured by web giants such as Facebook.
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