This week the SNP Government published an update of Our Digital Strategy, a document setting out its vision for Scotland as a vibrant, inclusive, open and outward looking digital nation.
The aim is for every home and business in Scotland to have access to superfast broadband of 30 Megabits per second (Mbps) in accordance with the SNP Government’s Reaching 100% (R100) commitment.
While broadband provision is actually the responsibility of the UK Government, no other part of the UK has matched this commitment; it is unique to Scotland. Indeed, the UK Tory Government has committed less than £21 million -3.5% - of the cost.
R100 will deliver a future-proofed, national fibre network, making Scotland one of the best connected places anywhere in Europe, and underpinning our future economic growth.
In December 2017, the SNP Government announced investment of £600m for the procurement phase of the R100 programme - the biggest public investment ever made in a single UK broadband project – to help deliver the first universal superfast programme in the UK.
The investment is more than double the public funding committed to the current Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband (DSSB) roll-out and more than three times bigger than the UK's Rural Gigabit Connectivity Programme.
The procurement is split across three regional lots: North, Central and South. North Ayrshire comes under the Central region, while the Isle of Arran and Cumbrae are included in the North.
Procurement will not focus on urban city centre premises but target investment where it is needed most - in rural Scotland.
Contracts are expected to be awarded by the end of this year, with delivery timescales confirmed once suppliers are in place. Broadband delivery will continue on the ground throughout 2019/20, through both our DSSB programme and commercial build.
Additional measures may still be needed to provide superfast access to some of the most remote areas. With this in mind, plans are being developed in parallel with the main procurement to ensure our 100% commitment is met.
In the meantime, the Better Broadband Scheme will continue to offer an interim solution for those premises experiencing slow speeds and that are not part of the current Digital Scotland programme roll-out.
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Kenneth Gibson MSP commented:
“Despite the UK Government’s lack of investment, the SNP Government has prioritised high quality digital connectivity all across Scotland, particularly in our rural communities.
“The SNP Government has already ensured that and 96.3% of properties in North Ayshire & Arran currently have access to superfast broadband."
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