The Scottish and UK Governments will combine their schemes to subsidise the costs of building gigabit-speed broadband networks in remote areas of Scotland.
Currently, the UK and Scottish Governments use separate broadband voucher schemes – the Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme (GBVS) and the Scottish Broadband Voucher Scheme (SBVS).
The GBVS provides vouchers of up to £3,500 for SMEs and up to £1,500 for residential premises in areas where the cost of building new infrastructure is too high for commercial operators alone.
The SBVS provides vouchers of up to £5,000 to help deliver a permanent broadband connection to properties where there is no roll-out of superfast broadband planned.
By combining the two schemes, the potential funding available has increased to up to £8,500 for SMEs and up to £6,500 for homes.
The networks will enable broadband speeds of up to 1,000 megabits per second (Mbps), helping make rural communities more liveable and offer residents the freedom to work remotely.
Scottish Connectivity Minister Paul Wheelhouse said: “We have been working closely with the UK Government to join up our respective funds and processes to maximise the impact of our respective voucher schemes across Scotland to add to the progress achieved under the Digital Scotland Superfast Programme and augment our investment through our £600 million R100 programme.
“This collaboration will ensure that more people, communities and businesses in the hardest-to-reach areas in Scotland are able to access maximum funding available for better broadband.”
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Officially launched in August this year, the SBVS was designed to help fulfil the Scottish Government’s plan for Reaching 100% (R100) broadband coverage in the country by the end of next year.
Scotland has seen additional broadband infrastructure programmes to help extend coverage. Stirling recently completed a major broadband project, connecting 17,000 premises to a Gigabit-speed network.
UK Government Minister for Digital Infrastructure Matt Warman said: “This government is determined to connect every home and business to the fastest broadband available. Our new deal with the Scottish Government unlocks extra funding to help rural communities benefit from gigabit-capable connections.
“A quarter of all properties across the UK can now access these faster speeds and with more collaboration like this at a local and national level, we will see even more rural towns and villages staking their claim to these next-generation speeds.”
And UK Government Minister for Scotland Iain Stewart added: “Better connectivity is more important than ever, with many people relying on technology to stay in touch with loved ones and work from home as we navigate the coronavirus pandemic.
“I encourage rural homes and businesses across Scotland to use the postcode checker on gov.uk to find out more information.”