Broadband and mobile
We are working to improve and extend Scotland's broadband and mobile networks to benefit communities and businesses across the country.
In our national digital strategy, Realising Scotland's full potential in a digital world (March 2017), we aimed to:
- urge UK Government and Ofcom to apply the "outside-in" principle when auctioning spectrum for 5G deployment and ensure that operators deliver coverage to our most rural areas before they deploy in urban centres
- ensure that every premise in Scotland is able to access broadband speeds of at least 30 Megabits per second by 2021
Our digital infrastructure action plan details how we will achieve this goal, by improving and extending our broadband and mobile infrastructure by 2020.
The Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband programme (DSSB) achieved its initial target of delivering access to fibre broadband to 85% of premises in Scotland by March 2016 and is on track to make this 95% by the end of 2017. Over 750,000 homes and businesses across Scotland now have access to fibre broadband as a result of the programme.
Over the last five years, we provided £7.5 million in funding and supported Highlands and Islands Enterprise in launching Community Broadband Scotland (CBS) to develop superfast broadband solutions for areas where DSSB is unable to provide coverage.
This is supported by the following programmes:
Reaching 100% Broadband
The Reaching 100% Broadband programme is a commitment, unique across the UK, to deliver 100% superfast broadband coverage across Scotland. Any home or business that won't have superfast broadband delivered commercially – or through programmes such as DSSB – will be eligible for investment through the R100 programme.
The £600 million procurement for R100 is split across three regional lots (North, Central and South). On 10 October 2019, BT plc was named as the sole bidder for the Central and South lots of the R100 procurement. Subject to due diligence and governance approval, we intend to proceed to contract with BT as soon as possible. More than one bid was received for the North lot and we will announce a preferred bidder in due course.
Choose Digital First
Choose Digital First aims to increase businesses' and individuals' use of digital technology and to raise demand for services, helping to improve the commercial case for investment and delivering better outcomes for Scotland.
Widespread mobile connectivity is every bit as vital as superfast broadband for a world class digital Scotland. Although telecoms remains a reserved policy area, our work to achieve improved mobile connectivity is important to Scotland – socially, economically and in terms of local resilience.
In June 2016, we agreed a Mobile Action Plan with the UK's four main mobile operators. This was the first of its kind in the UK, a collaboration with industry to improve mobile connectivity.
Scottish 4G Infill programme
Working collaboratively with the Scottish Futures Trust and the mobile industry, we have developed the Scottish 4G Infill programme (S4GI). In this programme, we are investing £25 million (including £10 million from the European Regional Development Fund for the Highlands and Islands) to deliver future-proofed mobile infrastructure and services in up to around 50 to 60 complete mobile 'not spots'.
S4GI launched in August 2017 with a public consultation and we entered procurement in March 2018. In July 2018 we awarded the contract to WHP Telecoms Ltd, with an initial 16 sites.
Following a second public consultation on additional potential candidate sites, further sites have been added to the programme. Delivery of the overall programme takes place over four years from 2017 to 2022.
Progress updates to the sites currently in the programme will be regularly communicated at the first link below.
- Scottish 4G Infill programme: progress update
- Scottish 4G Infill programme: location map of programme sites
- Scottish 4G Infill programme: non domestic rates relief
- Scottish 4G Infill programme: state aid
We are working with the UK Government to maximise the wider impacts of the Emergency Services Mobile Communications Programme, a 4G network for the 'blue light' services. For example, we have successfully influenced the delivery approach to ensure deployment, where possible, of infrastructure, which supports use by multiple operators.
We are working with industry, academia and public sector partners to ensure that Scotland benefits from UK Government funding which has been allocated for 5G and to create an environment where Scotland is at the forefront of 5G testing and deployment.