Scotland sets rural broadband fund

The Government of Scotland has unveiled Community Broadband Scotland, a program backed by £5 million in funding that is designed to help rural community groups attract broadband services to their areas.

The Government of Scotland has unveiled Community Broadband Scotland, a program backed by £5 million in funding that is designed to help rural community groups attract broadband services to their areas.

The program, which will launch in October, will start with offering advice and support for community groups via a telephone helpline, a website, and consultants. The £5 million will be used as seed funding over the next three years for broadband projects. A small number of such projects will receive funding in the first round and will be used as case studies for future efforts. Up to £1 million will be available during this initial phase.

Community Broadband Scotland will initially target communities deemed to be among the 10-15% least likely to see the benefits of a broadband upgrade under the Government’s Step Change 2015 Programme.

“Everyone recognises the importance of access to broadband to ensure that our local communities flourish,” said Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure and Capital Investment, Alex Neil. “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,” he continued. “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.”

The village of Elvanfoot, South Lanarkshire, will be among the first communities accepted into the program. "We're absolutely thrilled to have this project initiated in Elvanfoot and are really excited about being able to access advice and support to get our local community broadband-connected, with all the social and economic benefits that connectivity will bring," said Amanda Burgauer, secretary of the Elvanfoot Development Group.

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