Scotland provides £9m for rural broadband header image

Published: 22nd Jun 2016

The Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon has pledged to provide £9 million to boost the rollout of broadband to rural communities in the country on top of existing funding commitments.

The money has been made available for grant applications as  Scottish Rural Development Programme (SRDP), and is aimed at local communities who want to organise to obtain broadband from commercial providers. Community Broadband Scotland (CBS) will be responsible for administering the grant scheme.

Given the highly isolated nature of parts of Scotland’s islands and highlands, broadband access is a key concern for many people, who see it as a way to encourage local enterprise and improve quality of living for locals.

Ms Sturgeon said: Superfast broadband is being rolled out across Scotland with Scottish government support, and we are more than halfway towards meeting our target under the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband (DSSB) programme. The social and economic benefits are clear, as demonstrated by the innovative and accessible Wi-Fi tourist information kiosk in Oban’s Phoenix Cinema.”

Earlier in August, the DSSB received an additional £18 million in funding to help achieve its goals when it comes to broadband availability in some of Scotland’s most isolated areas. A priority list of eight areas across the mainland and islands has been drawn up to help get the internet to the places it is most needed.

The Scottish government has previously stated its commitment to providing “world-class” internet access by 2020.

The latest round of investment has been made available thanks to the activation of the clawback mechanism written into the contract of Broadband Delivery UK.

CBS director Zoe Laird welcomed the news and said: “Access to high speed, robust broadband has a transformational effect on how people live, work and learn, particularly in our most remote and rural communities. The SRDP will enable us to help even more rural communities across Scotland get digitally connected.”

Funding for local broadband efforts has now reached £16.5 million, which is separate from the main £400 million that is administered by DSSB.