New research has revealed the importance of high-speed fibre broadband to the nation's economy, finding that in Scotland, every pound of public money invested into the technology returns nearly £12 in benefits.
This equates to a total of £2.76 billion in economic gains over 15 years as a result of the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband (DSSB) scheme since its introduction in 2014, the study found, which has seen 930,000 homes and businesses connected to fast broadband via fibre-to-the-cabinet and fibre-to-the-premises rollouts.
Consultancy firm Analysys Mason, which conducted the research on behalf of DSSB, found the scheme achieved its goal of connecting 95 per cent of Scottish premises to fibre broadband by the end of 2017, with the average speed across the country tripling between 2014 and 2017.
The report was welcomed by Paul Wheelhouse, Minister for Energy, Connectivity and the Islands at the Scottish government, who said it illustrates the multitude of ways in which strong connectivity boosts the economy.
"For every £1 of public funding, £11.60 of economic benefit will be produced and shared amongst business and consumers," he continued. "That is money well spent and shows what can be delivered for people and businesses in Scotland when government works together with public agencies and private providers on a shared ambition."
The efforts have been particularly important to rural businesses, with the report highlighting the case of Glamis-based firm James F Stephen Architects as an example of a company that has been transformed by better connectivity.
Its work requires employees to frequently share large design files between offices and with clients, builders and engineers. However, before the arrival of superfast broadband, the firm' s broadband was very slow, which meant significant delays in sending and receiving business-critical data.
Director at the company Paul O’Brien said: "Superfast broadband immediately made a huge difference. Our download speed leapt to over 70Mbps, while the all-important upload speed increased to 15Mbps - more than 15 times the speed we had previously been working with."