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Scottish broadband action plan to be unveiled January 2012
Wednesday 23 November 2011 15:55:58 by Andrew Ferguson

A lengthy article in The Herald indicates Alex Neil MSP and Infrastructure Minister will be ready to reveal the plan for making Scotland competitive in the broadband arena. The plan will set out how the £143 million broadband fund will be spent, though earlier news today shows where £5 million is already going.

The £143 million is some £68 million from the BDUK, £50 million from Scotland and £25 million from the EU. Which seems at odds with what The Herald has some critics noting, i.e. that they think the Scottish Government is not going to match fund the BDUK allocation.

"We are determined to get our action plan done and dusted in the next couple of months,...

We are determined to move ahead as quickly as possible. My aim is not just to catch up with the Cornwall's of this world or the Jerseys or the Hulls, my aim is to overtake them as quickly as we can. There are some benefits in organising this at a national governmental level, that England doesn’t have, because of the number of local governments in the set-up. We have a more manageable situation up here.

We have done the strategy stuff. We now know how much money we have got so we are in a position to draft and prepare the action plan. I have talked to industry. We are looking at what is happening elsewhere but we are not going to do a world tour of digital sites before getting on with it. The drive behind this is not just from me but from the whole Cabinet because it’s so core to what we are trying to achieve."

Alex Neil, MSP

Where the Sosa project with its £5 million fits in this is at odds with this quote, as from an English point of view it does look very like what the local authorities are doing. Perhaps everything will become clearer once the main plan is revealed, and it turns out that Sosa is to be the leading region for the rest of Scotland to follow.

The war of words appears to continue between Alex Neil and Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt. In terms of information about broadband and how much superfast broadband is already available, then recent publications by Ofcom and current coverage of the 50 Mbps service from Virgin Media surely form at starting point. A quick tally of the population of just Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee and Falkirk suggests some 25% of the Scottish population has access to 50 Mbps broadband, and once Virgin Media finishes its 100 Mbps roll-out, the option of an EU 2020 ready service.

A possible hint of what the Scottish minister is considering in terms of implementation might be garnered from a visit to Cornwall that Alex Neil is to undertake, though we do hope that a visit to the Wirral and the Fujitsu FTTH network will also take place.

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