Scotland's Digital Future: infrastructure action plan

This action plan outlines our commitment to a world-class, future proofed infrastructure that will deliver digital connectivity across the whole of Scotland by 2020.

2 Executive summary

Scotland's Digital Future: Infrastructure Action Plan sets out the Scottish Government's commitment and the steps we will take to deliver world-class, future proofed digital infrastructure across all of Scotland by 2020, with an interim milestone of delivering a step change by 2015.

The purpose of the plan is to deliver a step change in people's ability to access the internet, enabling people to connect from their homes, businesses and while on the move. These improvements to our digital infrastructure are essential if we are to maintain and improve the ability of our businesses to compete in a global market place; be successful in attracting inward investment; transform the delivery of public services; respond to the challenges of a low carbon economy and have vibrant, strong and connected communities in our cities, towns and rural areas. This will make a major contribution to the Government's purpose of making Scotland a more successful country, with opportunities for all to flourish, through increasing sustainable economic growth for all of Scotland.

Modern digital connectivity is one of the essential components of creating a successful country. For businesses and social enterprises, it enhances productivity and drives innovation. In rural communities and fragile areas, it has the potential to boost economic development, retain young people and attract new residents. Connectivity, both fixed and mobile, is central to the successful development of emerging sectors such as renewables, digital healthcare and cloud computing, but also to more traditional sectors, such as tourism or business services, which are increasingly using digital technologies.

The Infrastructure Action Plan sets out four critical programmes, that combined, will ensure that we meet our ambition and deliver a world-class digital infrastructure for Scotland.

Programme 1: Achieving a step change by 2015 will address the current digital divide and put in place infrastructure in those areas that the market will currently not go, to ensure a step change in speeds by 2015. The outcome we are seeking is a significant uplift in speeds for everyone by 2015, with speeds of 40 - 80 Mbps for between 85% to 90% of premises. Our procurement strategy will seek to extend the reach further and deliver the best possible speeds for those where delivery of 40 - 80 Mbps is not possible at this stage.

Programme 2: Achieving world-class by 2020 will deliver a longer term plan, developed in parallel, to ensure we have the right mechanisms, partnerships and commercial models in place to deliver world-class infrastructure in a sustainable way and in partnership with industry.

Underpinning these core infrastructure programmes are two additional programmes:

Programme 3: Demonstrating and delivering innovative and local solutions will be targeted at promoting locally based projects and programmes and also trialling new technologies.

Programme 4: Increasing take-up and stimulating demand will be targeted at raising digital participation rates (for businesses and individuals) and raising demand for services - helping to improve the commercial case for investment and delivering better outcomes for Scotland.

Improving mobile coverage across Scotland is also an important element of the plan to ensure people have good access, wherever they are, to telephone and data services from hand held platforms such as mobile and smart phones, and tablets.

Aligned to these programmes, we will continue to work with the UK Government and Ofcom to promote an appropriate and adaptable regulatory environment that is an enabler to achieving our ambitions. We will also ensure that our approach to delivery of digital infrastructure is strongly aligned with our Public Sector ICT strategy for Scotland.

The Scottish Government is committed to sourcing and securing the right level of funding to deliver the plan. We expect the industry to work in partnership with us to deliver the plan and we will put in place mechanisms to secure greater investment from the private sector. Our funding strategy to deliver the step change for the 2015 programme will come from a mix of sources. This includes £68.8m from BDUK and £79.5m from the Scottish Budget, including up to £25.5m of EU funds. In addition as much as £40m has already been earmarked by local authorities for this purpose. We will also seek to secure additional EU funding through future programmes.

Within the Scottish Government, we are establishing a Digital Programme Office to deliver these key programmes. A single Programme Board will oversee the delivery of the entire action plan. An external stakeholder group will provide advice, insight and a challenge function.

Critical to our approach will be a strong working partnership across the public and private sectors to deliver on a shared ambition for all of Scotland. We are committed to building a strong partnership with COSLA and individual local authorities to deliver at pace, while taking account of local circumstances and expertise. Our relationship with the private sector will also be based on a fair and equitable partnership, ensuring everyone gets a fair return on their investment and ensuring we get value for every pound of public money invested.

Summary of the key actions we will take:

Programme 1 - Achieving step change by 2015

  • produce a procurement strategy by March 2012.
  • commence procurement by September 2012.
  • award contract in the first half of 2013.
  • work with Highlands and Islands Enterprise to support their project, contributing effectively and economically to the national strategy.
  • establish a coherent overall approach for public sector investment in infrastructure and demand for services that ensures overall value for money.

Programme 2 - Achieving world class by 2020

  • develop a full plan outlining the options for delivering our world-class ambition by December 2012.
  • build a strong relationship with COSLA and individual local authorities when formulating the plan, and also engage with wider partners, such as enterprise agencies.

Programme 3 - Demonstrating and delivering innovative local solutions

  • establish a seed fund by April 2012.
  • engage with industry, communities and academia on promoting innovative technology options.
  • support Scottish bids to UK Government's Urban Broadband Fund

Programme 4 - Increasing take up rates

  • work with the signatories of the Digital Participation Charter on projects to increase take up rates over the lifetime of the Parliament. Key areas for early priority action reflecting demographic, geographic and customer need and change of technologies for digital access, will be selected during spring 2012.
  • in partnership with Highlands and Islands Enterprise and Business Gateway, launch a business support project, targeted at upskilling small and medium-sized enterprises in the Highlands and Islands in February 2012.
  • in partnership with Scottish Enterprise and Business Gateway, launch a business support project targeted at upskilling small and medium-sized enterprises across the rest of Scotland in April 2012.
  • publish a plan for digital public services in spring 2012 and ensure that public sector ICT can enable the delivery of the plan efficiently and effectively.

In support of these programmes we will also:

  • work closely with local government, the enterprise agencies and other partners to ensure there is flexibility within the national approach to meet local requirements and priorities and to deliver local solutions.
  • continue to work with industry.
  • continue to work with the UK Government and Ofcom to promote an appropriate and adaptable regulatory environment that is an enabler to achieving our ambitions; notably in relation to rural mobile coverage.
  • ensure that our approach to delivery of digital infrastructure strongly aligns with Scotland's digital public services plan and our public sector ICT priorities.


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