South of Scotland councillors have shown unanimous support for a £120m broadband funding model aimed to deliver next-generation broadband through Dumfries and Galloway and the Scottish Borders by 2020. Current investment by BT in the area will only see two regions upgraded which include Innerleithen, a BT Race to Infinity winner, and a pilot project taking place in Annan.
Councillors were made aware that there would be a significant cost associated with delivering next-generation services to the most remote locations, but were also told that it had major potential benefits. The proposal will now be submitted to the Scottish government for approval.
"This project is the single largest infrastructure project for the south of Scotland and its importance to the future of the region should not be underestimated. The delivery of NGB should be viewed as a public utility available for all. While the investment required is significant, the potential positive affect across the region within the private, public and residential sectors is considerable."Report to Councillors
Scotland has only been awarded £69 million by Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK), the body that has been tasked with allocating funding for broadband around the UK from the central pool of £530 million. The South of Scotland region is likely to only receive a limited amount of this, and alternate funding would need to be sought to reach the £120 million needed in the region. This could come from the Scottish central government or local councils as well as investment from the private sector. It's not clear however whether BDUK funding could be combined with funding from Europe to help regions gain more investment.