1. Introduction and Background
The Reaching 100% Programme ("R100") is striving to extend the availability of NGA broadband infrastructure to meet the Scottish Government's commitment to deliver superfast broadband access to 100% of premises in Scotland.
To achieve this, the Scottish Government has procured coverage of NGA broadband infrastructure (capable of delivering download speeds of at least 30 Mbps) in areas where such broadband is currently unavailable. The procurement was split into three geographic lots, with Lot 1 (North) covering the north of Scotland and the islands, Lot 2 (Central) covering the central belt and Lot 3 (South) covering southern Scotland. All three lots were awarded to BT plc.
Scottish Government identified the eligible areas for investment by first conducting an Open Market Review ("OMR") to define a draft Intervention Area ("IA") and then testing that IA via a State Aid Public Consultation. The IA was subsequently amended to take account of the Public Consultation response ahead of procurement in line with the 2016 National Broadband Scheme for the UK which was approved by the European Commission as compliant with European State Aid Legislation and a Public Consultation report published to outline these amendments.
The Scottish Government maintained a rolling OMR with operators to ensure that any contracts remain compliant with State Aid and as such issued an amended Public Consultation report in August 2020.