Scotland calls for rural broadband funding


Scotland is making its voice heard when it comes to rolling out next-generation broadband to its rural areas.

A report released today by the Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) discussed the goals that Scotland should be aiming for and the need for investment to achieve them.

Alex Paterson, director of regional competitiveness for the HIE, said in a statement: "Technology is so important to our economy that it underpins almost everything HIE is trying to achieve."

He added: "The role of the internet and mobile technology is increasingly pivotal in everything from education, to supporting health care services, to opening up new markets to business, and nowhere are the benefits felt more keenly than in remote and rural areas."

Paterson admitted there had been investment from the public sector into connecting homes and businesses in remote areas but said there was a need to provide "strong business and social arguments" to make access to next generation broadband a priority.

The report estimated that 81 million was needed to deploy fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) across the Highlands and Islands with a further 480 million required to deliver fibre connectivity directly to the home or business.

Although the report says this is commercially viable for 40 per cent of the area, Patterson points out that a funding gap needs to be filled so connectivity to a next generation network can reach everyone.

"Telecoms connectivity is a cornerstone of the digital economy, and provides opportunities to accelerate innovation and raise productivity," added Patterson.

"HIE is committed to ensuring that the region attracts funding and consequently infrastructure for next generation access broadband coverage. It will be key to our ambition to be one of the most competitive regions in the world."

Jennifer Scott

Jennifer Scott is a former freelance journalist and currently political reporter for Sky News. She has a varied writing history, having started her career at Dennis Publishing, working in various roles across its business technology titles, including ITPro. Jennifer has specialised in a number of areas over the years and has produced a wealth of content for ITPro, focusing largely on data storage, networking, cloud computing, and telecommunications.

Most recently Jennifer has turned her skills to the political sphere and broadcast journalism, where she has worked for the BBC as a political reporter, before moving to Sky News.