£17.8m funding for Scotland in UK Government cash boost for superfast broadband
The UK Government has announced £440m to help connect harder to reach areas across the UK to superfast broadband
Computer and phone - Image credit: Pixabay
Around 600,000 homes in the UK will benefit from a £440m boost to help harder to reach areas get connected to superfast broadband, the UK Government has announced.
Scotland is to receive a £17.8m share of the funding, which will come from £150m of “efficiency savings” as well as a clawback mechanism that reinvests subsidies from BT as people take up superfast connections.
This follows the £1.14bn for fibre broadband and 5G connectivity that was announced by the Chancellor, Philip Hammond, in last month's autumn statement.
In Scotland, the uptake rate of the rollout so far has been 26.3 per cent, lower than any other part of the UK, with the average take up across the UK as a whole at 30.6 per cent.
Today’s announcement is not new money, Think Broadband’s Andrew Ferguson has pointed out, but a cumulative total that includes previous clawback money that started with £129m announced in July 2015.
UK Government Minister for Scotland Andrew Dunlop said: “Good connectivity is essential for the way we live our lives – whether that is doing business, teaching our children, or paying our bills.
“The UK Government is committed to delivering faster, better broadband for Scotland, and this extra £18 million of investment will connect even more Scottish homes and businesses.
“It is imperative Scotland gets the technology it needs for the future, which is why the UK Government has already spent £120 million rolling out reliable broadband across Scotland, supporting families and helping businesses thrive.”
However, many rural areas of the country still do not have a fast internet connection and there have been criticisms of the speed of the rollout.
Speaking to the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland programme, UK Government culture secretary Karen Bradley responded: “I fully appreciate that this is a problem and that is why not only are we announcing this money today, we’ve announced £1 billion in the autumn statement of new money to help to connect business and public amenities to fibre and we’re also legislating for a universal service obligation through the Digital Economy Bill, which will mean that by 2020 100 per cent of premises will have broadband of a least 10Mbs.”
But the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) has suggested a more joined-up approach is needed.
Professor Will Stewart, IET vice president, said: “Today’s new Government announcement of investment into superfast broadband under the Broadband Delivery UK programme is welcome news for the UK economy, as there is plenty of evidence to suggest that lack of broadband coverage is preventing many businesses from operating to their full potential, particularly in rural areas.”
“But beyond the investment headlines, we also need to see evidence of a joined up approach to finding a long-term solution to providing universal superfast broadband which, as well as improving 4G and 5G, will mean converging fibre broadband and local wireless infrastructure – rather than still relying in many areas on the old copper systems we have today.
“Ultimately, the Government should invest in a ‘gold standard’ solution using fibre and wireless technology to give the UK a futureproof broadband infrastructure that will enable the UK to become a global leader in communications networks.”
The Scottish Government has committed to at least 95 per cent of homes and businesses in Scotland having access to fibre broadband by the end of 2017, with 100 per cent superfast coverage by 2021, as well as work to address gaps in 4G mobile coverage.
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