While people can fight over the exact percentages the UK has some of the best coverage of basic ADSL services in Europe, and it seems that with the latest super-fast broadband project announcement for the Highlands and Islands we are heading rapidly towards a similar position for next generation services.
Today sees the announcement of a £146 million project led by the Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) with BT as the delivering body. BT is investing £19.4 million and some £12 million is from the HIE itself, the balance being a mixture of BDUK and Scottish Government funding. At this stage it is expected that 84% of homes and businesses in the region will have access to fibre broadband (mostly FTTC and some FTTP) by the end of 2016.
"This ambitious project is a game changer for the Highlands and Islands. It will roll out modern, fast and reliable broadband to areas that could not have hoped to have it introduced commercially.
Digital connectivity is essential to today’s social and business activity. High-speed fibre broadband in the Highlands and Islands will make a real contribution to our communities’ prosperity, particularly for people in remote and rural areas.
It offers opportunities for new ways of working, innovation, enhanced public services, access to international markets and provides the infrastructure needed by business sectors like energy, life sciences, tourism and business services."Alex Paterson, Chief Executive of HIE
The remoteness is highlighted by the stat that the project is likely to see some 400km of subsea cable being deployed as part of 19 crossings linking the remote island. For those in the areas that are remote even by the standards of the region, there will be a £2.5 million innovation fund that will look at smaller scale innovative solutions to extend the coverage of faster broadband.