Scotland publishes digital infrastructure plan

By Derek du Preez
01 Feb 2012 View Comments
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The Scottish government has released its Digital Future: Infrastructure Action Plan, outlining how it plans to implement a "future-proofed digital infrastructure across all of Scotland by 2020".

The plan takes a two-tiered approach, where the government hopes to introduce a step change by 2015, addressing the most serious aspects of the current digital divide in Scotland, and then further projects will be carried out up until 2020 to create a world-class infrastructure.

Further reading

The plan is divided up into four programmes, where timeframes for delivering specific targets have been provided.

Programme 1 looks to achieve a step change in Scotland by 2015 and will address the current digital divide by putting in infrastructure in areas where the market will currently not go. This will see speeds of 40-80Mbps broadband delivered to 85-90 per cent of premises.

For Programme 1, the government will produce a procurement strategy by March 2012, commence procurement by September 2012 and award contract for delivery in the first half of 2013.

Programme 2 will be delivered in parallel to Programme 1, and aims to achieve a world-class infrastructure in a sustainable way by 2020. The Scottish government has committed to delivering a plan for this by December 2012 and hopes to develop a relationship with the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities to help formulate the plan.

Programme 3 simply looks to deliver "innovative and local solutions", where new technologies will be trialled, but the publication does not give details of what these may be. The government will establish a seed fund for this by April 2012 and engage with industry around possible options.

Finally, Programme 4 will aim to increase current digital participation rates for both businesses and individuals, and raise demand for services. The government will work with the Digital Participation Charter on projects for this, and key areas for early priority action, reflecting demographic, geographic and customer need will be selected during spring 2012.

The document outlines the Scottish government's source of funding for these projects, which include £68.8m from Broadband Delivery UK, the body armed with distributing broadband funding from the UK government, £79.5m from the Scottish Budget, and up to £25.5m from EU funds.

In addition to this, £40m has also been put aside by local authorities for broadband rollouts.

"The purpose of the plan is to deliver a step change in people's ability to access the internet, enabling people to connect from their homes, businesses and while on the move," reads the report.

"Improvements to our digital infrastructure are essential if we are to maintain and improve the ability of our businesses to compete in a global marketplace; be successful in attracting inward investment; [and] transform the delivery of public services."

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