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The Scottish government has announced details of a voucher scheme that will help all citizens access superfast broadband by the end of next year, after failing to hit the target through its main infrastructure project.
The Scottish Broadband Voucher Scheme, as it is known, will provide up to £5,000 to help connect homes and businesses that fall outside the currently planned infrastructure.
The government is spending nearly £600m on its Reaching 100% (R100) project, which involves building infrastructure to ensure the “vast majority” of people in Scotland have access to superfast broadband. It aims to provide 30Mbps (megabits per second) broadband to every home and business in Scotland by 2021, but in January 2020 the SNP government admitted it would fail to meet the ambitious target.
Scotland’s minister for connectivity, Paul Wheelhouse, conceded at the time that only half of the population would have superfast broadband by the end of next year, and that it was likely to be the end of 2023 before the initial ambitious target would be met.
It has now announced a scheme to ensure those who fall outside the project will have access to the same level of broadband, providing funding of up to £5,000 to help homes and businesses not in scope.
Read more about UK superfast broadband
- KCOM, the operator for UK’s first full-fibre city, looks to spread full-fibre reach to surrounding areas with network that is said to have produced estimated cumulative economic impact of more than £469m.
- First steps on the legislative journey for UK government to make good on election commitments to bring full fibre across the UK.
- Gigabit network operator ITS plans to use latest funding to move into several new areas across the UK to build full-fibre networks which will pass at least 200,000 premises.
Interim vouchers of up to £400 are being made available for premises where superfast broadband is planned to be available after the end of 2021, with an additional £250 for those in the hardest-to-reach areas.
Wheelhouse said digital connectivity had played an important part in keeping people safe during the Covid-19 lockdown and was vital for economic recovery.
“Work is underway to build the infrastructure which will underpin R100, backed by Scottish government funding. This, together with commercially-driven work, will ensure the vast majority of homes and businesses across the country can access superfast broadband by the end of 2021,” he added.
“But Scotland has some of the most challenging locations anywhere in Europe for providing telecoms infrastructure, and I have always been clear that additional measures may still be needed to provide superfast access to some of the hardest-to-reach areas.
“That is why we have been developing plans in parallel with the main infrastructure investment to ensure our 100% commitment is met, and the Scottish Broadband Voucher Scheme – offering a level of funding far exceeding that of any other broadband voucher scheme currently in operation in the UK – will ensure that everyone can access and benefit from this world-leading digital capability.”
Research has revealed that every £1 invested in Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband (DSSB) has delivered an estimated £12 to the Scottish economy.
An R100 online postcode tracker is live now.
Read more about rural broadband
- New full-time field engineers will join rural broadband provider Gigaclear’s in-house team by the end of March 2021 to increase company’s build capacity.
- Over three million more homes and businesses in rural areas of the UK given the opportunity to get ultra-reliable, gigabit-ready, full-fibre broadband by mid-2020s.
- Openreach is testing new tools and techniques to roll out full-fibre broadband faster in rural areas.
- Vouchers subsidise the cost for rural homes and businesses in Wales to install next-generation, gigabit-capable broadband.