Scotland hits the digital road running
As the debate about independence gathers heat, the Scottish government has drawn up a plan which is says will bring a digital revolution to the country.
Alex Neil, the Scottish government's minister for infrastructure and capital investment says the plan will help the economy grow and bring access to the internet to all, regardless of location. Holyrood has earmarked £185m of taxpayers' money for projects, and is now looking for the private sector to match its funding,
The infrastructure action plan sets out the intent to offer world-class digital access to all of Scotland by 2020, with an interim milestone of delivering next generation broadband (40-80Mbps) to 85-90% of premises by 2015, and putting in place measures to ensure an uplift in service can be delivered to the remaining 15%.
Neil said the plan outlines the Scottish government's commitment to a world-class, future proofed infrastructure that will deliver digital connectivity across the whole of Scotland by 2020. "A world-class digital infrastructure for Scotland must deliver in terms of speed and ease of access, geographical coverage, and price and choice of provision for consumers."
Key actions include:
- by April 2012, establishing a £5 million seed fund to support local projects and innovative solutions with the potential for large scale roll out
- by summer 2012, commencing a procurement for infrastructure
However turning the plan into reality will require close cooperation between the Scottish government, local government and the wider public and private sector.
The plan was published with statements of support from leading ICT companies. Donald McLaughlin, director of Cisco Scotland & Ireland and a board member of ScotlandIS, the trade body for the digital sector in Scotland said: "Digital infrastructure is a vital foundation of Scotland's economy and a prime catalyst to supercharge our economic growth."
Derrick McCourt, Microsoft's regional director for Scotland, said the plan recognises the need to increase the take-up of digital services. "We will continue to look at how resources from public and private sector can be better aligned to deliver real community benefit in both education and health. It's an exciting time to be involved in digital participation in Scotland."
Scottish ministers have complained that the UK government has "fallen short" in allocating £68.8m of broadband funding for Scotland.
Scotland's Digital Future: Infrastructure Action Plan http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2012/01/1487