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 (DSSB) programme achieved and, indeed, exceeded its target of extending fibre broadband to 95% of all properties across Scotland by the end of 2017. Around 950,000 homes and businesses across Scotland are now able to access fibre broadband services as a result of the programme.
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.
In October 2019, the Minister for Energy, Connectivity and the Islands confirmed that BT plc were the successful bidder for the Central and South lots of the R100 procurement in which we will invest £83 million and £133 million respectively. On 14 December 2020, he confirmed that we have also signed a contract with BT plc for the North lot of the R100 procurement in which we will invest £384 million. The contracts we have signed with BT – alongside greater than anticipated commercial build – will go significantly beyond our superfast commitment by delivering a substantial amount of full-fibre connections, meaning many premises could be capable of accessing download speeds of up to 1 Gigabit (1,000 Megabits) per second.
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.
The Internet of Things (IoT)
The internet no longer just connects people – billions of systems and appliances are also connected to each other via the internet – this is the internet of things
The Scottish Government is a partner in a three-year Scottish Enterprise Research and Development project called IoT Scotland. Between August 2018 and April 2021 , Boston Networks will use Scottish Enterprise, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and Scottish Government investment to create a widespread network in cities, towns and rural areas.
The network will provide SMEs and academics with a secure and accessible IoT service to explore sensor and imaging applications, to pilot their ideas and then launch proven, sustainable products and services into the global market. This network allows a product to move along a path from concept to commercialisation.
Innovation can come from all quarters and has not been limited by geographical deployment. Boston Networks, although initially deploying in Glasgow and Edinburgh, has made it clear it will operate on a demand-led basis.
We developed the Scottish Wide Area Network (SWAN) as a shared network for public sector organisations. It also offers a dedicated, highly secure and resilient IoT service to its members.
We have also commissioned the Centre for Sensor and Imaging Systems (CENSIS) to promote IoT through the IoT Support Programme and have provided £269k of funding. The programme consists of several interlinked components - workshops, guidance, market scoping reports and development and delivery of Scottish use cases. Guides on ‘Getting Started with IoT’ and ‘IoT and Cyber Security’ have already been published on the CENSIS website.