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BT Openreach has secured the contracts to deliver the R100 connectivity programme


access broadband. Te govern- ment is committing £600m to three contract ‘lots’ for the South, Central and North regions of Scot- land with the telecoms operator, the vast majority of which will be full-fibre installations, guarantee- ing gigabit-capable connections. McGhee said: “Tat’s kind of


as future proofed as it gets, really, so it’s a programme that we’re all really excited about, especially as we’re starting to see the first connections being delivered. Once that momentum starts to build you start to see some really incred- ible results – that’s the basis on which businesses can start to plan


their own digital journeys and transformation.” For those premises not currently


within the scope of the R100 deployments, or which face longer delays, there is a Scottish Broad- band Voucher scheme, offering payments of up to £8,500 for small businesses to secure a connection.


Some have argued that still might not be enough, with the leader of Highland Council recently asking whether the vouchers can be pooled by communities. Margaret Davidson spoke of the urgency to use mitigation measures such as voucher schemes in combina-


tion with short-term fixes such as pooling and longer-term solutions which will allow for the rolling out of superfast and gigabit-capable digital connectiv- ity in the Highlands. McGhee said that the Scottish


Government is also working with the UK Government and the re- cent spending review at Westmin- ster should see a fresh allocation of investment in connectivity in Scotland. He said: “Te UK Govern-


ment announced in the spending review that it will commit £1.2bn to drive gigabit broadband in non-commercial areas in the next


four years and that will be part of a larger £5bn commitment. You won’t be surprised to hear that we’re making a strong case that a large proportion of that fund- ing should come to Scotland, so I think there’s real scope for col- laboration in the months ahead. “I think all that offers the pros-


pect of yet another step change in broadband availability, speeds and capability in the years ahead, but it’ll do more than that: it’ll really enrich Scotland’s national infrastructure pushing new fibre backhaul into rural areas and pav- ing the way for the growth of 5G and data economy.” l


FUTURESCOT | WINTER 2020/21 | 61


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