Reaching 100% - Superfast Broadband for All
Technology is transforming how we live our lives.
It connects us in new and different ways. It allows us to develop new products and services; access information instantly and expand our knowledge and skills; develop successful, global businesses; reduce costs and increase the quality of public services; and actively contribute to our world-leading carbon reduction targets by increasing remote working opportunities and reducing pressure on our transport routes.
Our Digital Strategy sets out our vision for Scotland as a vibrant, inclusive, open and outward looking digital nation.
That needs high quality digital connectivity all across Scotland, particularly in our rural communities. Building that future-proofed infrastructure has to start now. It will underpin future economic growth and transform the economic prospects of rural areas.
We want every home and business in Scotland to have access to superfast broadband of 30 Megabits per second (Mbps) - this is our Reaching 100% (R100) commitment.
R100 will deliver a future-proofed, national fibre network, making Scotland one of the best connected places anywhere in Europe, and underpinning our future economic growth.
In December 2017, we announced investment of £600m for the procurement phase of the R100 programme - a vital investment in Scotland's national infrastructure.
This is the biggest public investment ever made in a single UK broadband project; and will help deliver the first universal superfast programme in the UK.
Our investment is over double the amount of public funding committed to our current Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband (DSSB) roll-out and more than three times bigger than the UK's Rural Gigabit Connectivity Programme.
The procurement process for the central and south lots of the R100 programme is now complete, as contracts with BT plc were signed in December 2019, fulfilling our commitment to do so before the end of the year. These contracts will deliver beyond our superfast commitment, with the overwhelming majority of the build expected to be gigabit capable full fibre connectivity. On the 9th January 2019, the Minister for Connectivity, Paul Wheelhouse MSP, provide an update on R100 to Parliament. The transcript of this update can be found here.
On 21 November, the Minister also confirmed that BT plc had been selected as the preferred bidder for the north lot of the R100 programme. However, that decision has since been challenged and contract signature is, therefore, suspended until legal proceedings have concluded. Broadband delivery will continue on the ground through the first part of 2020, through both our DSSB programme and commercial build.
Scotland has some of the most challenging topography in Europe for providing telecoms infrastructure. The complexity this presents - and the fact that the vast majority of technology being delivered will go beyond our original commitment - means the civil engineering works will take time. Engineers are working to deliver half of the target premises in both the central and south contracts by the end of 2021, with the majority of the build completed by the end of 2023.
We acknowledge that this, on its own, would be insufficient to enable access for all homes and businesses by the end of 2021 as promised.
That is why, in the meantime, we will provide additional support to ensure that everyone can access superfast broadband services in that timescale - delivered through a national demand-led voucher scheme.
Anyone who will not be able to access superfast broadband through the R100 programme by the end of 2021 – regardless of whether or not R100 will ultimately reach them – will also be eligible for that voucher scheme. This includes any premises similarly affected in the north lot.
The voucher scheme will launch later this year and will provide grants to broadband customers in non-domestic and domestic premises, offering support to access a range of technologies and suppliers.
Commercial investment also has an important part to play in enhancing Scotland's digital connectivity. Commercial suppliers are already going further than originally anticipated, which has reduced the number of premises requiring public investment. We will continue to work with commercial suppliers to better understand their deployment footprint and ensure that everyone who wants to, can access superfast broadband by the end of 2021.