Dumfries and Galloway is to be one of the regions to see increased superfast broadband coverage for homes and businesses, Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Constitution Derek Mackay has confirmed.
Following the early success of the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband project, which saw stronger than expected take up figures, an additional £15.6 million is being reinvested back into the programme.
The additional funding will have a particular focus on maximising the numbers of premises that have access to speeds of greater than 24Mbps with funding targeted on areas with the lowest speed coverage including Aberdeenshire, Angus, Dumfries and Galloway, Perth and Kinross, Scottish Borders and Stirling.
The extension will mean that premises in very rural areas who do not currently benefit from any uplift in speed, as well as ‘new build’ premises constructed between 2012 and 2014, will now all be able to access superfast broadband.
Progress is being made around Scotland, for example, in Aberdeenshire the small village of Inverugie went live this month – with 79 fibre connections now available. Across the city of Aberdeen 94.9% of premises now have fibre available to them combined with commercial deployment.
Kirriemuir is now live with over 600 homes and business able to connect for the first time to fibre broadband. While in Dumfries and Galloway the market town of Newton Stewart has over 1,600 premises live. Smaller areas such as industrial estates are also benefitting, Houston Industrial Estate in West Lothian with 33 small businesses going live earlier this month.
Mr Mackay said:
“I am delighted that thanks to the higher than expected uptake of our Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband programme more premises than originally planned will now have the opportunity to benefit from investment in reliable and speedy broadband services.
“The increase in broadband access shows clearly the difference this Government is making to people, communities and businesses, supporting jobs and livelihoods in the North East of Scotland.
“This additional funding will benefit local authorities across the country but will be focussed on those areas that need it most including Aberdeenshire, Angus, and Perthshire as well as Stirling, Dumfries and Galloway and the Scottish Borders.
“Work is already underway and by December 2018 every local authority across the project area will enjoy at least 85% superfast broadband coverage with users able to experience speeds of above 24Mbps as part of our commitment to deliver 100% superfast broadband by 2020.
“We are already looking at how we reach further and ultimately ensure we get superfast speeds to all. This will include extending the programme to new areas, as well as identifying new solutions for parts of the network that are currently unable to access superfast speeds.”
Robert Thorburn, BT Scotland’s Fibre Broadband Director, said:
“We are proud of the Digital Scotland rollout – a massive infrastructure project that’s being delivered on time and on budget and provides a vital digital network for Scotland for generations to come. It’s built in to the contract that strong take-up levels trigger the release of funds for reinvestment back into the network, and BT has chosen to release these funds early so we can go further.”