Economic condition of crofting: 2019 to 2022

This is a report to the Scottish Parliament as outlined in the terms of section 51 of the Crofting Reform (Scotland) Act 2010, reflecting the economic condition of crofting and the measures taken by the Scottish Ministers, the Crofting Commission and others to support crofting during 2019 to 2022.

22. Rural Broadband

22.1. The Programme for Government 2016/17 set out the Scottish Government's commitment to "extend superfast broadband access to 100% of premises across Scotland". This became known as the 'Reaching 100% (R100)' programme. The R100 programme builds on the success of the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband programme, that delivered broadband connectivity to over 950,000 properties across Scotland.

22.2. The 100% commitment is being delivered through three strands of activity – the £600 million R100 contracts, the R100 Scottish Broadband Voucher Scheme (SBVS) and continued commercial coverage. The R100 contracts were awarded in three geographical lots – North, Central and South. The £83m Central and £133m South contracts were awarded in December 2019, with the £384m North contract awarded a year later. In total, the contracts are expected to connect over 112,000 properties, with over 59,000 of those connections being delivered through the R100 North contract. The R100 North contract is also delivering 16 subsea cables to 15 Scottish islands, providing resilient, future-proofed digital connectivity to some of Scotland's most remote and rural communities for decades to come.

22.3. All of the R100 contract build in the North lot, will be fibre to the premises (FTTP) capable of delivering download speeds of 1,000 megabits per second. FTTP is the most future-proofed broadband technology available at present and this outcome will put rural Scotland ahead of the curve, even compared to many urban areas. As at 31 October 2022, 3,363 properties have been connected through the R100 North contract, with a further 3,539 connections in build.

22.4. The R100 SBVS is a demand-led scheme, offering up to £5,000 per property, ensuring that those who will not benefit from superfast broadband through R100 contract build or commercial coverage could still benefit from a superfast broadband connection. As at 1 November 2022, 1,489 connections have been delivered in the R100 North contract area through utilisation of vouchers through the R100 SBVS, with a further 467 vouchers issued and another 10 requested.

22.5. In some cases, rural properties may also be eligible to combine the R100 SBVS voucher with the UK Government's Gigabit Voucher, which can provide up to £1,500 for homes and up to £3,500 for businesses.

22.6. We are now starting to see situations where the R100 SBVS is being used to deliver transformative island-wide broadband projects. For example, on the Orkney Islands, local supplier CloudNet are utilising vouchers to deliver connections to every eligible property on the island of Papa Westray. And on the Shetland Islands local supplier Shetland Broadband LLP is utilising vouchers to deliver connections to every eligible property on the island of Fetlar.



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