Some 600,000 properties across Scotland are set to benefit from a massive investment in fibre broadband. The contract between BT and the Scottish Government was signed at the BT exchange in Pitt Street, Glasgow today and means that there will be a £264 million investment in broadband improvements. This is in addition to the £146 million previously announced back in March 2013 for the Highlands and Islands.
"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. "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."Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon
The contribution made by BT is £106.7 million and £50 million from the Westminster run BDUK fund and has targets of 85% coverage of fibre based broadband (mainly FTTC/VDSL2) by the end of 2015 and increasing to 95% by the end of 2017. The total investment in better broadband across Scotland stands at £410m and builds on the commercial roll-out by BT that is already available to some 1.5 million premises in Scotland. While the expense looks high when you consider that Analysys Mason estimate £2 billion of economic benefits over a fifteen year period it looks more like a good medium to long term investment.
The areas covered by this latest announcement are Aberdeen City, Aberdeenshire, Angus, parts of Argyll & Bute, Clackmannanshire, Dumfries & Galloway, Dundee City, East Ayrshire, East Dunbartonshire, East Lothian, East Renfrewshire, City of Edinburgh, Falkirk, Fife, Glasgow City, Inverclyde, Midlothian, North Ayrshire (apart from the Islands), North Lanarkshire, Perth & Kinross, Renfrewshire, Scottish Borders, South Ayrshire, South Lanarkshire, Stirling, West Dunbartonshire, West Lothian.
The Highlands and Islands project covers Highland, Moray, Orkney Islands, Shetland Islands, Eilean Siar (Western Isles), parts of Argyll and Bute and part of North Ayrshire (Islands) and by running separately has more scope for handling the more diverse requirements of those areas.