Thursday, October 18, 2012

Scotland & Wales broadband update


Earlier this month, the Scottish Government announced that Scotland is set to benefit from nearly 15,000 new jobs thanks to investment in broadband infrastructure. These figures formed part of the first annual progress report of the Scottish Government’s digital strategy - Scotland’s Digital Future. From the press release:
"The jobs will be created across the economy in areas such as e-commerce, engineering, social media, tourism, laser technologies, cyber security and research and development. The investment will also help job seekers, older people and those with disabilities gain access to employment. The employment opportunities are forecast to emerge over the next 15 years as the Scottish Government invests in providing faster, next generation broadband access for businesses and communities...The Scottish Government is investing nearly a quarter of a billion pounds to deliver improved broadband access for people across Scotland. This includes a £120 million broadband boost specifically for the Highlands and Islands and £5 million to assist community groups in rural areas gain access to broadband networks." 
The Scottish Government has set the following targets for broadband in Scotland:
  • next generation broadband will be available to all by 2020 with significant progress by 2015; and
  • the rate of broadband uptake by people in Scotland should be at or above the UK average by 2013, and should be highest among the UK nations by 2015.
The report's summary of progress lists the following as the Government's achievements in relation to broadband infrastructure:
  • Published Scotland’s Digital Future – Infrastructure Action Plan in January 2012 and the Step Change 2015 Procurement Plan in May 2012 setting out how we will deliver world-class digital connectivity for Scotland by 2020 with a step change in speed and coverage by 2015.
  • Secured an additional £32 million of UK Government funding for Next Generation Broadband resulting in a national fund of over £240 million.
  • Reached the final stages of a procurement to deliver Next Generation Broadband across the Highlands and Islands following an intense period of competitive dialogue.
  • Commenced the procurement of a second contract, to be awarded in the first half of next year, to provide a significant improvement to digital infrastructure across the rest of Scotland by 2015.
  • Launched the Community Broadband Scotland Programme to enable local communities to take positive action to deliver connectivity within their communities.
  • Lobbied the UK Government and Ofcom successfully on 4G Spectrum to improve the levels of 4G coverage in Scotland that will be delivered following the forthcoming spectrum auction.
Coverage from ISP Review here, with further information on recent broadband developments in Scotland here. Two related recent interesting reports from Scotland are Scotland's Digital Future - Delivery of Public Services, published in September 2012, and the eHealth Strategy 2011-2017, published in September 2011.

In Wales, an additional £20m for broadband in Wales was announced at the beginning of October 2012, as part of the draft budget for 2013-14. From the Welsh Government press release:
"...an additional £175m in capital investment over the next two years to support strategically important projects throughout Wales, creating or supporting up to 3,000 jobs. This includes...An additional £10m in 2014-15 for high-speed broadband to ensure universal access by 2015.  This builds on the additional £10m we are allocating in 2013-14 for Next Generation Broadband Wales from the Centrally Retained Capital Fund..."
More on recent broadband developments in Wales here and here, with coverage from ISP Review here.

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