Big broadband boost for Scotland

  • New agreement to join up the UK and Scottish Government’s broadband voucher schemes to help rural areas get gigabit-capable broadband connections

  • £6m to connect hundreds of public sector buildings across Angus, Dundee, and Perth & Kinross

A new collaboration between the Scottish and UK Governments will see voucher funding joined up to make more money available to subsidise the costs of building gigabit-capable broadband networks to hard-to-reach areas of Scotland.

Gigabit-capable broadband enables internet download speeds of up to 1,000 megabits per second (mbps) which is enough to download a HD movie in less than 30 seconds. It has the potential to make rural communities even more attractive places to live by giving people the freedom to work more flexibly and develop thriving digital economies.

The UK Government’s Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme targets areas where the cost of building new gigabit broadband infrastructure, which often requires digging trenches to lay full fibre cables to people’s doorsteps, is likely to be too high for commercial operators to cover alone.

Since May 2019, vouchers worth up to £3,500 for small and medium sized businesses and up to £1,500 for residential premises have been available to cover these costs across the UK.

The Scottish Government’s supplier-led Scottish Broadband Voucher Scheme (SBVS) provides people with a voucher worth up to £5,000 to help deliver a permanent broadband connection to properties where there is no roll-out of superfast broadband planned.

To ensure even those in the hardest-to-reach areas of Scotland don’t miss out on gigabit-capable broadband, the Scottish Government has teamed up with the UK Government to combine their funding and expand that pot to up to £8,500 for SMEs and up to £6,500 for homes.

The offer means eligible people experiencing the slowest speeds in some of the most remote areas of Scotland will be able to access a voucher that provides the maximum funding from both schemes.

Ministers from the UK and Scottish governments are now urging businesses and communities to apply to future-proof their internet connections and be ready to reap the economic and social benefits brought by advances in technology.

Matt Warman, UK Government Minister for Digital Infrastructure, said:

This government is determined to connect every home and business to the fastest broadband available. Our new deal with the Scottish Government unlocks extra funding to help rural communities benefit from gigabit-capable connections.

A quarter of all properties across the UK can now access these faster speeds and with more collaboration like this at a local and national level, we will see even more rural towns and villages staking their claim to these next-generation speeds.

Scotland’s Connectivity Minister Paul Wheelhouse said:

We have been working closely with the UK Government to join up our respective funds and
processes to maximise the impact of our respective voucher schemes across Scotland to add to progress achieved under the Digital Scotland Superfast Programme and augment our investment through our £600 million R100 programme. This collaboration will ensure that more people, communities and businesses in the hardest-to-reach areas in Scotland are able to access maximum funding available for better broadband.”

UK Government Minister for Scotland, Iain Stewart, said:

The UK Government has been working closely with the Scottish Government and local authorities to ensure thousands of rural homes and businesses across Scotland have top-of-the-range broadband speeds.

Better connectivity is more important than ever, with many people relying on technology to stay in touch with loved ones and work from home as we navigate the coronavirus pandemic.

I encourage rural homes and businesses across Scotland to use the postcode checker on gov.uk to

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