Connecting Scotland: our broadband future
1. The market for broadband and higher bandwidth connections is currently at an early stage in its development. However, once businesses and consumers realise what the digital revolution can offer, demand is expected to grow. We must act now to ensure all sectors of the population, in every area of Scotland, has access to this technology.
2. Ultimately the market will decide which services and which technologies succeed. We see our role as maximising the extent to which the opportunity for broadband access is available, ensuring that bandwidth requirements of as many sectors of the population are served in the future without distorting the market. It is our view that the ultimate solution will be a combination of various complementary technologies and bandwidths delivered by a range of companies.
3. The outcome of improving broadband connections is expected to be the improvement of innovation, economic productivity and competitiveness, and enhanced delivery of learning, health care and public services. Aggregating public sector procurement offers opportunities for achieving a more extensive broadband infrastructure which would benefit business and consumers, as well as providing enhanced infrastructure for public services such as schools, health, police, libraries and local authorities.
4. We are confident that the actions set out here should play a significant role in facilitating the development of broadband connections in Scotland. The strategy will be developed through pathfinder projects in the Highland & Islands and South of Scotland. In both of these areas, the Executive, in conjunction with local partners, will develop an aggregated broadband procurement strategy that will aim to facilitate the provision of up to the minute telecommunications technology being offered in rural communities. We anticipate that a similar approach can be taken across Scotland, and plan to open discussions with other local authorities early in the pathfinder projects.
5. The digital revolution is already changing how we work, communicate and live, and we must ensure we keep pace with demand for changing technologies. We are sure that the actions set out here will contribute to the promotion of Scotland as a great place to live and work.
6. The Scottish Executive has had extensive discussions prior to formulating these proposals, but we welcome continued reaction and feedback. Please feel free to write, phone or e-mail us at the Digital Scotland Unit with your thoughts. Our contact details can be found in Annex C.