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BT ploughs extra £18m into improving Scottish broadband

Tuesday, August 11th 2015 by Phil Wilkinson-Jones

The rollout of superfast broadband in rural Scotland has been given an £18m boost.

Extra funding has been made available by BT because the take-up of fibre broadband in Scotland has been better than expected.

The Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband (DSSB) programme has so far given access to superfast speeds to more than 365,000 homes and businesses not covered by commercial broadband rollouts.

Backed by the Scottish Government, DSSB aims to connect 85% of Scottish premises by March 2016 and 95% by the end of 2017.

The contract between the Scottish Government, BT, and Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) included a ‘gain share’ clause, which allows DSSB to claw back funding if take-up levels exceed 20%.

BT Scotland director Brendan Dick said: “The fibre broadband rollout is a real success story, and we’re delighted to be able to share that success with Scottish Government and HIE by making £17.8m available to help connect some of the hardest to reach homes and businesses.

“The open network which we’re rolling out brings real choice to communities and this is helping to drive take-up which is key to the programme’s future.”

The announcement came as the Scottish Cabinet visited Ullapool in the Highlands. Ministers carried out a number of visits in and around the town ahead of a cabinet meeting and public discussion.

Deputy first minister John Swinney said Ullapool is “exactly the kind of place that will benefit hugely from this improvement to our digital infrastructure.

'Huge strides forward'

“Improved connectivity is a major priority for the Scottish Government, and a boost like this will allow the continued rollout of this technology to an even greater number of rural areas,” he said.

“We are working with BT to ensure that our investment in the DSSB programme extends coverage as far as possible; while, at the same time, getting clarity on which areas won’t be reached.”

He said the new funding would allow communities not currently included in the programme to work with Community Broadband Scotland to explore alternative ways of delivering superfast connectivity.

“We are now seeing huge strides forward in transforming the future of connectivity for Scotland’s rural communities and businesses, many of which would never have seen these kinds of connections through the commercial market,” added Mr Swinney.

“This is another major step towards creating an infrastructure capable of supporting world class connectivity across Scotland by 2020.”

Stuart Robertson, HIE’s director of digital, said: “Superfast broadband is now available to more than 60 additional rural towns and villages in the Highlands and Islands.

“We’re delighted people have been quick to embrace the benefits. It’s great news that take-up in our first communities is directly helping us to bring better broadband to even more people.”

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