Date lodged: 4 July 2016
To ask the Scottish Government what major mobile and broadband projects are planned for the north east to be delivered (a) in the current parliamentary session and (b) after 2021.
Answered by: Fergus Ewing 27 July 2016
The Scottish Government and our partners are delivering a number of national mobile and broadband projects that will benefit the north east.
The Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband Programme will extend fibre broadband access to at least 95% of premises in Scotland by the end of 2017. In parallel, Community Broadband Scotland is supporting community-led broadband projects, including the Mearns Internet Initiative which has connected 160 premises in the Marykirk area with plans to connect a further 120 premises. The Scottish Government is committed to building on the success of these programmes and achieving 100% superfast broadband coverage by 2021.
Digital infrastructure projects will also form part of the £250 million Aberdeen City Region Deal that was agreed between the Scottish Government, UK Government and regional partners earlier this year. The Scottish Government is providing an additional £254 million, over and above the City Deal, to help deliver a more significant step change to the economy of the north east.
Although reserved to Westminster, the Scottish Government is committed to doing everything we can, with the powers and funding available to us, to improve mobile coverage across Scotland. We recently agreed an action plan with mobile operators, which sets out a range of actions aimed at extending coverage. We are also working with UK Government to maximise the impact of the Emergency Services Mobile Communications Programme, which will deliver a number of new mobile masts across Scotland in the coming years, including in the north east.
Underpinning all of this is our commitment to developing a world class digital infrastructure that will deliver high quality connectivity across Scotland. The Scottish Government, along with Scottish Futures Trust, is assessing how government can best incentivise industry to invest in a world class infrastructure that will support the future evolution of digital technologies beyond 2021.