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Parliamentary debates and questions

S5W-01556: Gail Ross (Caithness, Sutherland and Ross)

Scottish National Party

Date lodged: 20 July 2016

To ask the Scottish Government whether it will provide an update on what progress it is making on improving (a) broadband and (b) 3G coverage across rural areas.

Answered by: Fergus Ewing 15 August 2016

The Scottish Government and its partners are investing over £410 million in the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband (DSSB) Programme, which will extend access to fibre broadband to at least 95% of premises in Scotland by the end of 2017. We are also investing up to £16.5 million in Community Broadband Scotland to support innovative community-led broadband projects in areas least likely to have superfast broadband delivered through the DSSB programme. We are committed to going beyond this, and extending access to 100% of premises by 2021. We will set out further details of our delivery approach in the coming months. Our immediate priority is to finalise the coverage footprint of the DSSB programme, utilising residual resources within both contracts. We will then undertake an open market review(s) to confirm commercial investment plans and enable us to confirm an intervention area for our new investment programme. Once completed, we will launch new procurement activity.

Although reserved to Westminster, the Scottish Government is committed to doing everything it can, with the powers and funding available, to improve mobile coverage for rural and remote areas across Scotland. Recently we agreed an action plan with mobile operators that sets out a range of actions aimed at extending coverage. Additionally we are working with the UK Government to maximise the impact of the Emergency Services Mobile Communications Programme. This will deliver a number of new 4G-capable mobile masts across Scotland in the coming years.