Scottish homes to benefit from extra broadband funding

Scottish homes to benefit from extra broadband funding

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Homes and businesses across Scotland are set to benefit from additional funding to support the rollout of superfast broadband as part of a new collaboration between the Scottish and UK governments.

Holyrood and Westminster have agreed to join their gigabit broadband voucher initiatives, which will allow people in some of the remotest parts of Scotland to access financial assistance from both schemes.

The UK's Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme has been running since May 2019 and provides up to £3,500 for businesses and £1,500 for residential properties to cover the costs of connecting them to high-speed broadband.

The Scottish Broadband Voucher Scheme, meanwhile, provides vouchers worth up to £5,000 to help deliver permanent broadband connections where there is no roll-out of ultrafast broadband planned.

Under the new collaboration, those in rural parts of Scotland will now be able to access funding of up to £8,500 for SMEs and up to £6,500 for homes.

The UK government noted that bridging gigabit-capable broadband to rural and remote parts of the country will make these locations more attractive places to live and ensure people in these communities can "work more flexibly and develop thriving digital economies".

Scotland's connectivity minister Paul Wheelhouse commented: "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."

Ministers from both governments are now urging homeowners and businesses in remote locations in Scotland to apply now for the funding in order to futureproof their connectivity and make the most of the economic and social benefits the technology can provide.

Matt Warman, UK government minister for Digital Infrastructure, noted a quarter of properties in the UK are now able to access these faster speeds.

He added: "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."

Meanwhile, the UK government has also announced the Tay Cities region in Scotland is set to benefit from an additional £6 million in funding, which has been released as part of its Local Full Fibre Networks programme.

The first part of this scheme will see £2.9 million allocated to BT to connect more than 150 schools, libraries and other public buildings in Angus and Perth & Kinross to gigabit-speed broadband.

A further £2 million is set to connect around 40 public buildings in Dundee with this connectivity, while another £1 million will go to around 30 more premises in Perth & Kinross in the next phase of the project.

Director of BT's Enterprise unit in Scotland, Alan Lees said the work will enhance connectivity in the Tayside region by bringing ultrafast fixed broadband to homes and businesses, as well as supporting the rollout of 5G mobile networks.

He added: "Digital technology is transforming every element of the way we live. In a world where everyday life and work increasingly depend on technology, digital skills can be the difference between getting ahead or being left behind."

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