Broadband infrastructure in Scotland: public review
A public review to confirm eligible premises for public investment via Project Gigabit, which has an ambition to deliver nationwide gigabit-capable broadband as soon as possible.
1. Introduction and Background
The Scottish Government wants Scotland to be a fully digitally inclusive nation in which our digital and data infrastructure is recognised as critical national infrastructure and the benefits of technology are available to everyone.
Scotland’s Infrastructure Investment Plan adopts a wide, encompassing definition of infrastructure. It extends beyond the fibre, masts and small cells needed to meet our connectivity needs, to encompass digital platforms, online public services and data architecture. Future capital investment decisions will be driven by this understanding of the role that data and digital play in ensuring the economic and societal resilience of all our communities and our ability to trade with the world. They will also support our transition to a net zero society by enabling us to replace unnecessary journeys and make more efficient, environmentally friendly use of the more traditional infrastructure of transport and buildings.
Over £1 billion of public funding has already been invested to transform Scotland’s digital connectivity via our Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband Programme and our ongoing Scottish 4G Infill and Reaching 100% (R100) programmes.
In March 2021, the UK Government announced an ambition to deliver nationwide gigabit-capable broadband as soon as possible, recognising that there is a need for government intervention in the parts of the country that are not commercially viable. They have committed a total of £5bn to ensure that all areas of the UK can benefit. This will be spent through a package of coordinated and mutually supportive interventions, collectively known as Project Gigabit, with an initial intervention of £1.2bn targeting at least 85% gigabit coverage of the UK by 2025.
The Scottish Government works closely with suppliers delivering broadband infrastructure and regularly receives updates on delivered and planned build at individual property (premises) level. Suppliers submit data returns on a four-monthly basis (February, June and October). The purpose of this rolling Open Market Review (OMR) is to ensure that we have the most up to date information about suppliers’ existing and planned build over the next 3-year period.
Our February 2022 OMR was updated to include the collection of ultrafast and gigabit-capable broadband infrastructure, where previously it focussed only on superfast.
This Public Review (PR) is being launched using supplier data collected up to and including the October 2022 OMR.
The PR process aims to validate the outcome of the OMR and our mapping to ensure that it correctly represents the information provided by suppliers in the course of the OMR and to ensure that the right areas are targeted for government investment. Data collected from this PR will be used to inform eligibility for possible future procurements via Project Gigabit and support the development of other potential public interventions. It may also be used to determine eligibility for the current UK-wide GigaHubs and Gigabit Voucher programmes.
In line with our OMR process, we are also gathering information on superfast and ultrafast broadband infrastructure to inform Policy and our ongoing programmes, including the R100 Programme.
Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) is currently carrying out a Project Gigabit procurement on behalf of the Inverness and Highland City Region Deal (IHCRD). Until such times as the HIE procurement concludes, we will not classify, evaluate or consider those premises within the IHCRD procurement area from a gigabit perspective. Further information on the IHCRD is available on the HIE website.
We invite stakeholders (including the public, businesses, internet service providers and broadband infrastructure operators) to provide us with feedback about the proposed eligible area for government investment set out in this document.
Suppliers who missed contributing to the preceding OMR, had no definitive plans and/or evidence base on which to substantiate claims at that earlier stage, or have subsequently updated their plans, now have a final opportunity to notify the Scottish Government before a Subsidy Control classification is defined for each property in Scotland (outwith the IHCRD area). The premises identified by the Scottish Government as eligible for future publicly funded interventions may be grouped into one or more appropriately sized Intervention Areas (IAs). The IAs will be issued to the market so that suppliers can bid for funding to support delivery to those areas.
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