Scottish Highlands to get even bigger broadband boost

Uptake of fibre broadband up in the Scottish Highlands has been impressive - so the Digital Scotland scheme is getting an extra funding boost. A new investment of £2.3 million means that 6,000 more premises will soon be connected to fibre optic broadband.

A 'clawback' clause in the scheme's contract with BT means that the provider must return part of the public investment as soon as uptake rises above 20%. Uptake in the Highlands and Islands reportedly reached 22.9% earlier in the year - not surprising, considering how dodgy standard ADSL broadband can be in rural areas - so £2.3 million has been returned.

That money will be re-invested to improve coverage and the quality of the service even more. Coverage is expected to rise up to 86% by the end of next year, in fact - and could even exceed its goal of 95% in a few years.

It's expected to keep on covering Argyll and Bute, Highland, Moray, Orkney, the Outer Hebrides, and Shetland, including areas that the fibre network wasn't previously going to reach - Duntulm, Sligachan, Sandness, and Scarista.

"There is nowhere in the UK where a broadband project has made a bigger difference to connectivity than in the Highlands and Islands," cabinet secretary for the rural economy, Fergus Ewing, said.

"This first phase of roll-out has significantly increased access, with coverage across the region to be at least 84%, compared to just 21% that would have been delivered commercially. Thanks to the success of the DSSB project, I am delighted that more premises than originally planned will now have the opportunity to benefit from reliable broadband."

The Scottish Government is hoping that superfast broadband will reach 100% of the population by 2021.

Source: ISPReview

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