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Innovation fund to boost rural broadband solutions

The Scottish Countryside Alliance welcomes a £10m project outlined by the UK Government that will fund innovative ways to improve broadband speeds in remote rural areas.
The “competitive fund”, which was first announced in the chancellor’s Autumn statement last December, will open in early 2014 and be used to test broadband solutions aimed specifically those members of the population who live and work in the most difficult to reach parts of the UK.  
 

The Government has pledged that 95 per cent of the UK will be connected to superfast broadband by 2017. The new fund aims to help the final 5% not currently part of the £1.1bn national programme.

 

The Scottish Countryside Alliance has long believed that a range of technologies, such as mobile, satellite and wi-fi connections, should be used to deliver broadband to those remote areas that fibre optic provision is unlikely to reach.

 

Jamie Stewart, Countryside Alliance Director for Scotland said : “Broadband connectivity is as important to those living in rural Scotland as a connection to water or electricity. “

 “We hope this fund will ensure the roll-out of broadband happens as swiftly as possible, so as to ensure the digital divide does not grow any wider and enable rural communities and businesses to compete economically and socially with their urban counterparts.

£10m however is just a drop in the ocean, especially since connecting up rural areas is traditionally more costly due to sparse populations that make a return on any investment much more difficult to achieve.” We continue to work with the Mobile and Satellite Operators and will press Westminster and Holyrood in a bid to have Scotland’s disadvantaged communities prioritised.

 

 

For more information, contact Countryside Alliance head of media Charlotte Cooper on 0207 8409220, 07500 834163 or email charlotte-cooper@countryside-alliance.org