New broadband support scheme for rural communities launched
First minister Nicola Sturgeon has 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 super-fast broadband services from commercial providers.
Ms Sturgeon made the announcement on a visit to Oban’s Phoenix Cinema, which has previously received SRDP support and where a new wifi tourist information kiosk has been installed.
The first minister said: “Superfast broadband is being rolled out across Scotland with Scottish Government support, and we are more than halfway towards meeting out target under the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband (DSSB) Programme. The social and economic benefits are clear, as demonstrated by this 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 £16.5m in Scotland, over and above the £400m 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) 2014-2020 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.”