Work has begun to extend super-fast broadband connections to rural Scottish areas through a new Government programme.
Tens of thousands of rural and island homes and businesses are set to gain access to fast and reliable broadband over next few months.
A £384m investment is being provided through the Reaching 100% programme (R100) which will be put towards the building of full fibre connections from September 2021 around Oban, Argyll and Bute, as well as Portlethen and Newtonhill in Aberdeenshire.
Full fibre broadband, capable of one gigabit per second download speeds, will be delivered by the R100 North contract, which is more than 30 times faster than the original commitment to deliver 30 megabits per second.
The Scottish Government’s announcement comes months after the £3.75m investment boost to improve digital connectivity and mobile coverage in Scotland’s rural communities.
More than 220km of subsea cables are also currently supplying 15 more islands across Argyll and Bute, Highlands, Shetland and Orkney providing fast and reliable broadband.
The Scottish Government said that the R100 programme has so far enabled more than 3,400 premises access to superfast broadband.
Commenting on the news, Economy Secretary Kate Forbes said: “Accessing fast and reliable broadband has never been so important and for our more rural communities that is becoming increasingly vital.
“That is why the Scottish Government is making substantial investments in digital infrastructure to ensure all of Scotland has equal access to high speed internet.
“The Reaching 100% programme is going significantly beyond our original commitment to provide superfast broadband and will now deliver the UK’s fastest and most reliable broadband for many businesses and homes.”
The funding news comes a few months after plans unveiled by Openreach to build Ultrafast Full Fibre broadband, providing for at least 300,000 homes and businesses across Scotland proved to be a success.
More than 160 exchange areas were upgraded, with the majority of homes and businesses in places such as Fort William, Oban, Turriff, Burntisland, North Berwick, Pitlochry and Stranraer benefitting from the project.
Additionally, Island communities, including Brodick on Arran, Portree on Skye, Stornoway, Kirkwall and Lerwick were also included, with more than 60,000 households and businesses receiving access across the Highlands and Islands.
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Chair of Scotland’s Openreach Board Katie Milligan added: “As delivery partner, we’re designing a network that maxes full fibre for the North of Scotland.
“We are pleased to have worked so closely with the Scottish Government to ensure homes and businesses will make the move straight to the UK’s fastest, most reliable gigabit-capable broadband.
“The arrival of ultrafast broadband will be a game-changer, placing rural residents and remote islanders firmly in the internet fast lane. They will see a huge difference for life and work generally, but future-proof connectivity will also boost fragile rural economies and address sustainability issues like depopulation.”
The infrastructure build began in 2014, connected 150,000 premises, providing a digital platform across rural Scotland to support access to vital e-services.