Faster rural broadband move gets £36m expansion

The Scottish Government announced that more rural homes and businesses will gain access to faster broadband following a further £36 million expansion of the Reaching 100% (R100) contracts.

The extension of existing contracts with delivery partner Openreach will see another 2,637 rural properties across Scotland able to access gigabit-capable connections through additional Scottish and UK Government investment in the R100 programme.

It will provide speeds more than 30 times faster than the Scottish Government’s original commitment and fulfil a 2021-22 Programme for Government commitment to deliver gigabit capable connections to the islands.

Contracts for both the North Lot that covers the north of Scotland and most of Scotland’s inhabited islands, and the South Lot that covers Dumfries and Galloway and the Scottish Borders, are being extended with this new R100 investment.

The UK Government’s Project Gigabit will fund £16 million of this additional investment, which will be split between the R100 North and South contracts.

The Scottish Government will invest a further £20 million in the North contract to help fund the gap between the cost of delivery and the contribution from Project Gigabit.

Business Minister Ivan McKee said: “This latest investment will connect more homes and businesses in Scotland’s rural and island communities to gigabit capable broadband. That will have far reaching economic, social and development impacts.

“Our R100 programme is going further, and providing faster broadband, than originally envisaged. This takes time and significant investment, but we are fully committed to ensuring that as many people as possible are able to enjoy the important advantages of this future-proofed digital infrastructure.”

Openreach Scotland Partnership Director Robert Thorburn said: “The R100 build is once in a generation, bringing the fastest, most reliable technology to our most remote residents. Full fibre is future-proof – so the new network will always meet the nation’s needs.

“Connecting these properties one by one is one of the biggest broadband challenges in Europe. To make the most efficient use of resources, we’ll align the R100 build with our own rural investment. This will help us to get engineers and equipment to the most remote places, where they’re needed.

“We’ll continue to explore every option to reach more rural homes, faster.”

The R100 North Lot contract extension covers an additional 1,488 premises in the following council areas: Argyll and Bute, Na h-Eileanan Siar (Outer Hebrides), Orkney Islands and Shetland Islands.

The South Lot contract extension covers an additional 1,149 premises in: Dumfries and Galloway, East Ayrshire, East Lothian, Midlothian, Scottish Borders, South Ayrshire and South Lanarkshire.