£9 mil­lion pledged to help speed up ru­ral broad­band

The Oban Times - - News -

A FUND­ING pro­gramme for broad­band for ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties across Scot­land has been launched by the First Min­is­ter on Mon­day.

Ni­cola Stur­geon an­nounced the new Scot­tish Ru­ral De­vel­op­ment Pro­gramme (SRDP) broad­band grant scheme is now open for ap­pli­ca­tions.

The £9 mil­lion fund will be used to sup­port com­mu­nity-led broad­band projects sim­i­lar to Gi­gaPlus Ar­gyll – a ground-break­ing scheme where groups of hard-to-reach com­mu­ni­ties get to­gether to pro­cure su­per­fast broad­band ser­vices from com­mer­cial providers.

The First Min­is­ter said: ‘ Su­per­fast broad­band is be­ing rolled out across Scot­land with Scot­tish gov­ern­ment sup­port, and we are more than half­way to­wards meet­ing our tar­get un­der the Dig­i­tal Scot­land Su­per­fast Broad­band (DSSB) Pro­gramme.

‘The so­cial and eco­nomic ben­e­fits are clear, as demon­strated by the in­no­va­tive and ac­ces­si­ble wifi tourist in­for­ma­tion kiosk in Oban’s Phoenix Cin­ema.

‘This SRDP fund­ing will help com­mu­ni­ties in the hard­est-to -reach broad­band ar­eas fol­low in the foot­steps of the pi­o­neer­ing Gi­gaPlus Ar­gyll pro­ject, and work to­gether to bring su­per­fast ser­vices to homes and busi­nesses.

‘This scheme takes the avail­able fund­ing for com­mu­nity broad­band projects up to £16.5 mil­lion in Scot­land, over and above the £400 mil­lion DSSB in­vest­ment.

‘It is another step to achiev­ing the Scot­tish gov­ern­ment’s aim of de­liv­er­ing world class con­nec­tiv­ity by 2020 and en­abling peo­ple across Scot­land to con­nect any time, any place, any­where, us­ing any de­vice.

The Scot­tish Ru­ral De­vel­op­ment Pro­gramme (SRDP) 20142020 broad­band grant scheme will be de­liv­ered by Com­mu­nity Broad­band Scot­land (CBS).

CBS Di­rec­tor, Zoe Laird, said: ‘Ac­cess to high speed, ro­bust, broad­band has a trans­for­ma­tional ef­fect on how peo­ple live, work and learn, par­tic­u­larly in our most re­mote and ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties. Our role at CBS is to help com­mu­ni­ties find in­no­va­tive so­lu­tions and Gi­gaPlus Ar­gyll is a great ex­am­ple of an in­no­va­tive busi­ness model that will bring trans­for­ma­tional and ro­bust broad­band to the most re­mote of premises across eight is­land and main­land com­mu­ni­ties. The SRDP scheme will en­able us to help even more ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties across Scot­land get dig­i­tally con­nected.’

Eight is­land and main­land com­mu­ni­ties on the west coast of Scot­land have joined forces with Com­mu­nity Broad­band Scot­land (CBS) for the com­mu­nity- owned Gi­gaPlus Ar­gyll pro­ject.

Pro­ject chair­man, Mo­ray Finch, said: ‘Broad­band con­nec­tiv­ity in the Gi­gaPlus Ar­gyll area is poor, with speeds less than two Mbps, and our com­mu­ni­ties on the is­lands and Craig­nish penin­sula are out­side the reach of the Dig­i­tal Scot­land Su­per­fast Broad­band fi­bre scheme.

‘By get­ting to­gether with CBS, we have been suc­cess­ful in se­cur­ing ten­ders and ap­point­ing a com­pany spe­cial­is­ing in the in­stal­la­tion and op­er­a­tion of wire­less su­per­fast broad­band which will de­liver af­ford­able ser­vices to 1,400 homes and busi­nesses, open­ing up huge op­por­tu­ni­ties.’

Oban Phoenix Cin­ema man­ager, Jen­nie Lar­ney, said: ‘The Phoenix al­ready has wifi which is hugely pop­u­lar with lo­cal cus­tomers and tourists, but su­per­fast broad­band will make a mas­sive dif­fer­ence. It will make it much eas­ier and faster for us to ac­cess the latest re­leases, as well as en­abling us to screen live- streamed events. I know that su­per­fast in­fra­struc­ture is cur­rently be­ing in­stalled in Oban and we can’t wait to get con­nected.’

Calum Ross, Vice chair­man of Ar­gyll and the Isles Tourism Co­op­er­a­tive (AITC), said: ‘AITC is acutely aware of the im­por­tance of su­per­fast broad­band and 3G/4G cov­er­age across our area to help grow tourism. In­no­va­tive so­lu­tions are vi­tal in our re­mote ru­ral ar­eas, and our kiosks are a prime ex­am­ple of this.’

ON MES­SAGE: Ni­cola Stur­geon is in­ter­viewed by Louise Glen (left) and Emma Crich­ton. Video footage of the in­ter­view with the First

Min­is­ter can be viewed on the Oban Times web­site

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