Glasgow City Council tackles digital divide with Virgin Media

Virgin Media expands its network to 5,000 more premises in the suburbs of Glasgow and launches skills schemes

Virgin Media has started work on plans to bring 150Mbps fibre broadband to more homes in and around Glasgow, and has launched a number of skills and training initiatives for young Glaswegians.

The network expansion will be centred on the dormitory suburbs of Cumbernauld, Duntocher, Barrhead and Uddingston. Set to be completed in November 2014, it should touch 5,000 premises with superfast broadband for the first time.

It comes in the wake of a successful partnership between the internet service provider (ISP) and the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games. Virgin Media said it wanted to help close the digital divide in the area.

A recent Ofcom report uncovered a clear correlation between some of the more deprived parts of Glasgow and the lack of availability of superfast broadband services.

Glasgow City Council leader Gordon Matheson said he wanted all of the city’s residents to be able to participate in the digital world.

“We want everyone to be included in the digital age, whether that’s young people looking to be the next Bill Gates, developers of video games, or older people getting online to communicate with friends and family – no-one should be left behind,” he said.

Tackling Scotland’s digital divide

To this end, Virgin Media will also be creating a team of 50 "digital coaches" to deliver sport-inspired digital-skills training to more than 1,500 marginalised people across Glasgow, deploying training materials and tablet devices.

It has also launched a Digital Making Space at the city’s historic Mitchell Library, which will run coding clubs hosted by CoderDojo Scotland to teach young people how to create motion-controlled video games, among other things.

Several sessions have already been run at the space, with more scheduled in the coming weeks.

Glasgow Digital’s Neil Paterson, who has been heavily involved in the creation of the Digital Making Space, said for many without internet access or a basic knowledge of IT skills the digital world can feel daunting.

“Virgin Media is helping us reach more people through our new network of sports coaches which will show more people how beneficial and fun being online can be,” he said.

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