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The Scottish Wide Area Network (Swan), a public sector network run by outsourcer Capita, is to be extended to more than 150 public sector sites – including schools, libraries, officers, hospitals, GPs and universities in the towns of Fort William, Inverness, Thurso and Wick – through a newly built CityFibre network.
The expansion of the network comes about as the result of a new collaboration between the Highland Council, Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), Scottish Natural Heritage, NHS Highland, the University of the Highlands and Islands, and the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).
The £9.5m contract will see Capita undertake to deliver gigabit-capable broadband to 152 sites by March 2021, while full-fibre network builder CityFibre will commit its own multi-million pound investment to design, dig and operate the network.
“The Gigabit City steering group has been working to realise this cutting-edge high-speed fibre connectivity over the past year and today’s announcement will ensure we make significant progress towards that objective,” said the SNP’s Drew Hendry, who represents the constituency of Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey at Westminster.
“As well as transforming internet connectivity in our public buildings, I would like to see our business community also benefit from this infrastructure in the future. The potential for Inverness and the wider Highlands really is enormous through improved productivity, inward investment and innovation. Instead of following, we will be at the forefront of the digital opportunities and that is certainly cause for celebration.”
Capita’s Eddie Cronie, who manages the Swan, added: “Creating a fully connected Scotland has been a fundamental driver behind the Swan project since we started it in 2014. By bringing full fibre to these 152 sites in some of the most rural areas of the country, we are getting closer to achieving that goal, as well as boosting the Highlands’ economy through significant investment.”
“This announcement marks yet another major CityFibre investment in Scotland’s digital infrastructure. With existing full fibre projects in Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Stirling, connecting schools, libraries, council offices and community hubs, our fibre infrastructure is already transforming the delivery of public services – fit for the future,” said CityFibre head of regional development, James McClafferty.
“Better connectivity not only drives efficiency and improves the digital experience of staff and community members, it will also help position these areas for economic growth, investment and innovation.”
The group hopes that improving public sector connectivity with full-fibre access will help the area develop new digital services and smart city applications, provide new learning opportunities to schoolchildren in the region, as well as attracting more investment into the region by future-proofing its digital capabilities.
Read more about broadband
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- The latest expansion of Hyperoptic’s ultrafast network targets 20,000 properties in London and the south east.
- A new investment through CityFibre will see thousands of residential properties hooked up to full-fibre broadband services in Bournemouth and Northampton.