A new report from the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr) has said that a comprehensive full fibre broadband network in Scotland could enable 76,000 people to enter the workforce by 2025.
In addition, helping carers, parents and over-65s to access employment could contribute almost £2 billion in gross value added to the Scottish economy.
For the UK as a whole, the report found that the nationwide rollout of full fibre broadband could bring up to a million people back into the workforce; save 700,000 tonnes of CO2 emitted from car commuting trips; and support 500,000 people to move from urban to more rural areas across the UK, helping stimulate economic growth.
“Increased economic participation and earnings will both lower the government’s welfare bill and generate additional tax revenue,” the report noted.
Also known as fibre-to-the-premises broadband, full-fibre is the fastest currently available broadband option. This sees fibreoptic cables uses to provide broadband all the way into a building. It differs from conventional broadband, which uses fibreoptic cables to a local cabinet before running on far slower copper wiring up to customers’ premises.
The report’s findings were welcome by the new Chair of Openreach Scotland, Katie Milligan, who commented: “This report illustrates just how game-changing the roll out of full fibre broadband across Scotland’s rural and remote communities could be.
“The pandemic has reinforced public recognition of the importance of high-quality broadband and we’re clear that fibre has a significant part to play in Scotland’s recovery.
“The Cebr findings show accelerating the build would pay huge dividends to Scotland’s economy as a whole and be instrumental in bringing people back into the workforce who haven’t previously had the ability to navigate other commitments or find opportunities in their local area.
“We look forward to working closely with the next Scottish government to remove red tape and deliver access to full fibre to thousands more people – through our commercial programmes and in partnership – and supporting Scotland’s economic recovery.”
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To help realise the report’s findings, Openreach is investing hundreds of millions of pounds rolling out full fibre to 90 Scottish towns and cities. This includes 60 locations in the hard-to-reach ‘final third’ of the country.
More than 600,000 Scottish homes and business can already access full fibre and other ultrafast technology through the network of service providers who use the Openreach network.