Key achievements over last five years
The Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband (DSSB) programme met its target to extend fibre broadband access to 95% of premises across Scotland, on time and on budget. We have a successful track record of delivering broadband – 7 years of deployment; around 950,640 premises connected; over 16,729km of cable laid (400km subsea); 5,078 cabinets stood. We exceeded expectation – over 950,640 premises are capable of accessing fibre broadband thanks to DSSB – around 110,000 more than originally anticipated.
We are going where others would not – Before DSSB began there were no plans for commercial fibre broadband rollout in Orkney, Shetland or the Western Isles. We have gone faster – 866,999 of the premises delivered by DSSB are capable of accessing superfast speeds.
We have driven up demand – When the DSSB programme began, we expected around 20% of premises to take up services on DSSB funded infrastructure – now take-up sits at around 66.9% in the RoS (Rest of Scotland) project area and 70.2% in the HIE (Highlands and Islands Enterprise) project area, resulting in over £37 million being reinvested through the DSSB contracts.
In December 2017, we launched the £600 million procurement for the Reaching 100% (R100) Programme. In December 2019, we awarded the £83 million South lot contract and the £133 million Central lot contract.
We have published a 5G Strategy and established The Scotland 5G Centre that is laying the foundations for the development and deployment of 5G throughout Scotland.
Progress in 2020-21
Within the last year, the DSSB delivered its last connections and entered the closedown phase.
In August 2020, we launched our online address checker, which allows people to check what the R100 programme means for them. In September 2020, we launched the Scottish Broadband Voucher Scheme to ensure that anyone who cannot access superfast broadband through commercial deployment or the R100 contracts, can still secure a superfast broadband connection. Over 50 suppliers are now registered to provide services.
In December 2020, we awarded the £384 million R100 programme North lot contract following a legal challenge. All three contracts far exceed our superfast commitment by providing a significant proportion of full fibre FTTP (fibre to the premises) connection, capable of accessing gigabit download speeds.
We are investing up to £25 million in the Scottish 4G Infill Programme (S4GI) to provide future proofed 4G services in selected mobile notspots (areas of no mobile coverage from any operator). We anticipate the programme bringing 4G service to up to 46 new locations across Scotland. Eleven sites are now active and delivering 4G services. These are Reawick (Shetland), New Luce (Dumfries and Galloway), Ettrick and Whitropefoot (Scottish Borders), Glenbarr (Argyll & Bute), Chapeltown (Moray) and Strathconon, Blairmore, Littlemill, Tarskavaig and Glencripesdale (Highland).
In September 2020's Programme for Government, we announced an additional £4 million funding support to the Scotland 5G Centre to deliver a network 5G Innovation Hubs network through the S5GConnect programme
On 17 March 2021 we launched Scotland's Vision and Action Plan for Green Datacentres & Digital Connectivity Green datacentres and digital connectivity: vision and action plan for Scotland
The Scottish Government, working with Scottish Futures Trust and other partners, developed the vision and action plan to support sustainable, green datacentres, terrestrial connectivity and international subsea fibre connectivity in Scotland – setting out co-ordinated action to support Scotland's digital ambition and green economic recovery from COVID-19.
Activity going forward
In relation to the Reaching 100% (R100) Programme going forward, we will continue to work with UK Government to ensure that Scotland receives its fair share of the £5 billion announced for gigabit connectivity delivery across the UK.
We are providing 10 years rates relief on newly laid and lit fibre – five years more than the UK Government – with the aim of encouraging new investment in Scotland's fibre infrastructure network.
Moving forward with delivering 4G services, we have a pipeline of further build activity and site activations over the rest of 2021 through to 2023.
5G Innovation Hubs will work with SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) to embrace 5G, develop use cases on a private 5G testbed network, and give them the skills they need to use 5G technology as business enabler. The first two Hubs will be located in the Forth Valley and in Dundee.
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