Community Broadband Scotland initative will provide rural communities with seed funding
The Scottish Government has announced a new £5 million Community Broadband Scotland initiative to get internet access to rural areas of Scotland.
Community Broadband Scotland will also launch a new telephone helpline in October, which will act as a one-stop-shop for rural community groups, providing them with information and advice to find solutions for broadband delivery in their areas.
Through the scheme, rural communities will be eligible to apply for seed funding to obtain greater access to the internet.
The Scottish Government said the first round of funding will focus on supporting a small number of community projects, which will be used as case studies for wider roll out across Scotland.
Announcing the scheme on a visit to the Elvanfoot Development Group in South Lanarkshire, Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure and Capital Investment Alex Neil said: “Everyone recognises the importance of access to broadband to ensure that our local communities flourish.
“Broadband should not be considered a luxury in rural areas; it is essential to enhance the quality of life and stimulate the growth of the local economy.
“This investment of £5 million, over the next three years, will see targeted support being provided to community projects to enable them to deliver broadband solutions for their areas.
“Increasing access to broadband is a key priority area for the Scottish Government, and we are currently progressing plans to develop a world class digital infrastructure by 2020.”
In June, the UK Government announced it was pledging an extra £32 million to deliver high speed broadband across Scotland, adding to a £68.8 million funding package pledged last August following a review by Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK).
That funding was part of the spending review which pledged a total of nearly £425 million to roll out superfast broadband across the UK.
More money is being allocated to Scotland in recognition of the difficulties in high speed broadband being extended to rural areas.