Scottish Government investment will bring superfast broadband to communities across the Highlands and Islands, Alex Neil said today.
The Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure and Capital Investment said the funding will ensure homes and businesses across some of Scotland’s most rural areas could get the benefits of next generation broadband for the very first time.
The Highlands and Islands, with the help of public investment, already have basic broadband provision to around 99 per cent of premises.
This investment will mean Highlands and Islands Enterprise, who are in discussions with BT, can roll out a programme to deliver world class connectivity for the region. This will call for a broad range of technical solutions, for example, by laying underground cables and in some cases, sub-sea cables to connect island communities.
Speaking via the Convention of Highlands and Islands, Mr Neil said:
“Scotland’s ambition to deliver world-class digital connectivity by 2020 has received a boost today, with the announcement of £120 million for the Highlands and Islands.
“Everybody in the Highlands and Islands recognises the importance of access to superfast broadband, not just for the future of our local economies but indeed for the future of our children, for our education, our health and every aspect of life in the modern world.
“Highlands and Islands Enterprise, which is currently in discussion with BT, has been a driving force in developing a project to find solutions to the challenges of bringing next generation access to businesses and communities in the region. I am pleased to see a continuing commitment to work with local authorities across the region to make sure that by working in partnership, we are truly able to meet the ambitions of local people and businesses.
“Whether it’s a small business competing in the global market through the use of superfast broadband, or whether it’s the granny and grandpa talking to their grandchildren in New Zealand, superfast broadband can change the lives of people for the better in these rural communities.”
“This substantial funding injection will bring those improvements to people across the Highlands and Islands. This only the start, with investment from local government and the private sector, we can we can continue to increase economic growth, create jobs and bring communities closer together.
Alex Paterson, Chief Executive of HIE, said: “This funding puts the Highlands and Islands on track to deliver the largest and most challenging rural broadband project in the UK. By bringing together the expertise and investment of both the private and public sector we want to roll out a service which will change the face of the region.
“Businesses and communities will see benefits where they matter most including in education, in supporting healthcare services and by opening up new markets. Our ultimate aim is for all parts of the Highlands and Islands to benefit and this news brings us a step closer to our goal.”