New build developments - delivering gigabit-capable connections: consultation

Consultation to collect views on the proposals to amend building standards to ensure that all housing developers are taking the necessary steps to equip new build homes with gigabit-ready infrastructure.

1. Ministerial foreword

The Scottish Government recognises the ever-increasing importance of digital connectivity in our daily lives. The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated how important this was for keeping in touch with friends and family, working from home or accessing digital public services. Our Digital Strategy outlines the role of digital infrastructure in ensuring economic, social and environmental wellbeing of Scotland.

Access to digital infrastructure also has a role to play in tackling digital exclusion and ensuring no one is left behind. As a key component of this, it is important that we ensure that new build housing developments are future proofed with digital connectivity that supports our ambitions.

This consultation outlines proposals to amend building standards to ensure that all new build homes are equipped with gigabit-capable (greater/faster than 1,000 megabits per second) infrastructure from the outset, with a connection available subject to a cost cap. In cases where a connection cannot be provided within the cost cap there will be a requirement to install the passive infrastructure (e.g. ducts) required to facilitate a connection at a later date.

While telecoms legislation is reserved to the UK Government, to date the Scottish Government has invested over £1 billion of public funding to transform Scotland’s digital connectivity through the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband (DSSB) and the Reaching 100% (R100) programmes, and improving mobile connectivity through the Scottish 4G Infill (S4GI) programme. Investing in these future-proofed networks is the right call for Scotland’s economic future and is providing a backbone of digital infrastructure that will enable reliable connectivity services and drive innovation across all sectors of the economy.

In addition to our investment, commercially telecoms operators have made significant investments in gigabit-capable connectivity across the length and breadth of Scotland.

We have used devolved powers to extend rates relief on newly laid and lit fibre for a period of fifteen years until March 2034 – longer than anywhere else in the UK – to create the right conditions for commercial investment in digital infrastructure in Scotland. Through our Affordable Housing Supply Programme, we have taken steps to ensure that new social housing is digitally enabled with the best available technology. We are also working closely with the UK Government to shape potential Project Gigabit activity in Scotland.

To help deliver our ambitions for digital connectivity this consultation invites your views on the proposals to amend building standards to include gigabit-capable ready infrastructure up to the proposed cost cap.

Richard Lochhead

Minister for Small Business, Innovation, Tourism and Trade



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