Scottish Government to spend £36m on faster broadband for rural communities
The Scottish Government has announced it will spend a further £36m to expand their R100 programme, to provide more rural homes and businesses with faster internet connection.
The extension of existing contracts with delivery partner Openreach will provide almost 2,650 rural properties with gigabit-capable connections. The project will give homes speeds 30 times faster than the Scottish Government’s original commitment and fulfil a 2021-22 Programme for Government commitment to deliver gigabit-capable connections to the islands.
Both of Scotland’s North lot, covering the north of Scotland and most of Scotland’s inhabited islands, and South lot, covering Dumfries and Galloway, Scottish Borders and stretching from East Lothian and East Ayrshire, will benefit from the extra funding. Scotland has already allocated £384m of its £600m R100 budget on the North of Scotland, which is considered to have some of the most difficult areas to connect.
The UK Government will provide £16m of the additional funding through its Project Gigabit, which will be split between North and South contracts. The Scottish Government will provide the further £20m to the North contract.
Business Minister Ivan McKee said: “This latest investment will connect more homes and businesses in Scotland’s rural and island communities to gigabit capable broadband. That will have far reaching economic, social and development impacts.
“Our R100 programme is going further, and providing faster broadband, than originally envisaged. This takes time and significant investment, but we are fully committed to ensuring that as many people as possible are able to enjoy the important advantages of this future-proofed digital infrastructure.”
Digital Infrastructure Minister for the UK Government, Matt Warman said: "Bringing lightning-fast and reliable broadband to hard-to-reach areas is at the heart of the UK Government's mission to level up communities, and that's exactly what we're doing in Scotland with our additional £16m investment in R100.
"We've already delivered faster broadband to hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses across Scotland and there is even more investment on the way thanks to Project Gigabit, our record £5bn programme to bring growth and prosperity to rural areas by putting them in the digital fast lane."
Openreach Scotland Partnership director Robert Thorburn said: “The R100 build is once in a generation, bringing the fastest, most reliable technology to our most remote residents. Full fibre is future-proof, so the new network will always meet the nation’s needs.
“Connecting these properties one by one is one of the biggest broadband challenges in Europe. To make the most efficient use of resources, we’ll align the R100 build with our own rural investment. This will help us to get engineers and equipment to the most remote places, where they’re needed.
“We’ll continue to explore every option to reach more rural homes, faster.”