The Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband (DSSB) programme has delivered transformational results across Scotland. Going further than expected, DSSB has provided fibre broadband access to over 950,000 premises – over 100,000 more than originally expected.
Building on the success of DSSB, the Scottish Government has set out a clear commitment that every premises across Scotland will be able to access superfast broadband. This will be delivered by the Reaching 100% (R100) programme. Delivery of the 100% commitment will be met through a combination of the R100 contracts, the Scottish Broadband Voucher Scheme (SBVS) and commercial coverage.
The £600 million R100 procurement was split into three geographical lots – North (£384 million), Central (£83 million), South (£133 million) – and focused investment in rural Scotland where it was needed most. The North Lot covers most of Scotland's crofting areas, and includes the Highlands and the majority of Scotland's inhabited islands.
The North Lot contract was signed in December 2020, and will enable delivery of superfast broadband to people, businesses and communities in some of the most remote parts of Scotland.
Given the critical importance of delivering a network that has genuine geographic reach across all of Scotland, deployment of gigabit capable infrastructure in key remote rural locations in the north of Scotland was mandated through the contract. This includes areas such as Achiltibuie and Assynt in the Highlands, South Mull in Argyll & Bute, Uig and Timsgarry in Na h-Eileanan Siar; Sanday and Stronsay in Orkney, and Yell and Unst in Shetland.
The Scottish Broadband Voucher Scheme (SBVS), another key strand of the R100 programme, launched in September 2020 providing grants to broadband customers in both residential and business premises, offering support to customers to ensure they can access superfast broadband of at least 30 Megabits per second (Mbps). Anyone whose home or business broadband speed is less than 30 Mbps, and where there are no plans to bring superfast broadband to their address by the end of 2021, will be eligible for a voucher. As at November 2020, all premises in the North contract area are currently eligible until such time as the contract is signed and build plans are finalised.
Vouchers can be used to cover the cost of installation associated with securing a service across a range of superfast-capable technologies, including fibre, fixed wireless, mobile broadband, and satellite. For further information on the Reaching 100% (R100) programme or to check whether you are eligible for the SBVS, please visit www.scotlandsuperfast.com.
The Scottish Government's £25 million Scottish 4G Infill Programme is continuing to deliver 4G infrastructure and services to up to 40 selected mobile "notspots", mainly in the Highlands and Islands. Although focused on bringing 4G services to rural communities now, the masts are being future proofed to enable delivery of 5G services in the future. The first mast to go live was in February 2020, with a pipeline of activations set to continue over the remainder of 2020 through to 2023. Updates to the programme are regularly published on the Scottish Government's website. As at November 2020, nine of the mast sites are located in the crofting counties:
West Highlands: Polbain, Glasnakille, Skerray, Blairmore, Tarskavaig, Applecross.
South West Highlands: Craighouse.
Western Isles: Baymore, Ranish.
Digital connectivity has played a pivotal role throughout the COVID-19 pandemic by supporting the work of the health and emergency services, enabling many people to work effectively from home, and allowing families and friends to connect remotely. Digital connectivity – both broadband and mobile – will continue to play a critical role in supporting a resilient and green recovery from the impact of the pandemic.
The Scottish Government is committed to ensuring that every home and business in Scotland can access superfast broadband.
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