Scottish Government signs £400m BT deal to boost islands’ broadband
The Scottish Government has signed a contract with BT worth almost £400m for the Reaching 100% (R100) broadband programme in the north of Scotland.
Work to bring superfast broadband to the north of the country, including some of the most remote rural and island communities, will start in the new year.
The contract will involve the laying of 16 new subsea cables, aimed at ensuring resilient connections in all island local authorities.
It will deliver speeds over 30 times faster than the Scottish Government’s superfast commitment, with fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) technology used for more than 80% of addresses.
BT has now been contracted to deliver all three of the R100 contracts through its Openreach division.
Scottish connectivity minister Paul Wheelhouse confirmed the step forward for the £600m programme, with the signing of the contract for the north of Scotland, worth £384m, allowing work to move to the next stage.
Wheelhouse said: “The role of digital connectivity in our everyday lives has never been clearer as we tackle the pandemic, and the contract signature for the North lot, involving funding of £384 million, marks a significant step towards ensuring our 100 per cent commitment is delivered across Scotland, including to some of our most remote and rural communities.
“Scotland has some of the most challenging locations anywhere in Europe for providing telecoms infrastructure and we are taking additional steps to provide superfast access to some of the hardest-to-reach areas. More than 80% of the build we are funding will provide full fibre to the premises and speeds of up to one gigabit per second.
“Complex engineering work to lay 16 new subsea cables will provide resilient connections for our most remote communities and download speeds equal to that experienced in our most urban areas. We have also developed plans, in parallel with main infrastructure investment, to ensure our 100% superfast commitment is met with our Scottish Broadband Voucher Scheme. This will ensure that everyone can access and benefit from this world-leading digital capability.”
Openreach managing director Katie Milligan said: “Getting to this point has been long and complex, and the build in the north, with its wild and beautiful land and seascapes, will bring new challenges to test our engineering inventiveness. We look forward to working in partnership with the Scottish Government to get this vital job done.”