Alex Neil MSP states disappointment at Scottish broadband funding

Thursday, August 18th 2011
The UK government's broadband funding allocation for Scotland has fallen short of expectations.
Alex Neil MSP states disappointment at Scottish broadband funding
Scotland's Infrastructure and Capital Investment Secretary Alex Neil has expressed disappointment at the amount of super-fast broadband funding allocated to the country.

After earmarking £530 million to spend on improving broadband connectivity across the UK, the Conservative-led coalition announced earlier this week that £68.8 million has been allocated to boosting provision in Scotland.

In comparison, England, Northern Ireland and Wales were awarded £294.8 million, £4.4 million and £56.9 million respectively.

The amount of public money given to each nation was based on the true cost of delivering super-fast broadband to properties that will not be covered by private sector deployments, rather than the number of people who live or work there.

Responding to the news, Mr Neil said the allocation has fallen well short of the expected cost of rolling out high-speed internet services in remote and rural parts of Scotland.

For instance, it has been estimated that up to £300 million will be required to deliver next-generation access to the Highlands and Islands alone. As a result, the Central Scotland MSP said the UK government's funding is not a "realistic contribution to meet Scotland's broadband requirements".

Mr Neil noted that following the announcement, money still appears to be left over from the £530 million that was set aside from the TV licence fee. The politician said he will write to Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt to clarify this point in a bid to "secure a better deal for Scotland".

"The Scottish government believes that people across Scotland should have the same access to the benefits of high-speed connection and fair access to the digital revolution," he remarked.

"That investment will be good for jobs and economic growth and is why we will be introducing a Next Generation Digital Fund amongst other measures."

Despite his disappointment at the amount, Mr Neil acknowledged the money will go some way towards fulfilling the country's broadband ambitions. 

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