Moves to further expand broadband internet access for rural communities in Perth and Kinross are being pursued through a major injection of public funding.
Jointly Perth & Kinross Council, the Scottish Government, the UK Government and the European Union are investing in measures to improve digital connectivity over the next three years, with the Council contributing £1.2million. The improvements are to be delivered through a contract with BT Openreach, which is also investing its own funding into the project.
Across the Perth and Kinross area it is estimated that, without public sector involvement, around 3,500 premises do not and will not have basic broadband access, and around 43,000 more do not and will not have access to next generation broadband (NGB) if left entirely to market provision.
As a result, the project aims to:
- Give everyone in Perth and Kinross access to at least a 2Mbps service by 2017
- Provide 70% of premises in Perth and Kinross with NGB access (24Mbps or over) by 2015; rising to 90% by December 2017
- Provide next generation broadband access to the following rural settlements of 1000 people or more – Aberfeldy, Abernethy, Almondbank, Alyth, Auchterarder, Bankfoot, Blairgowrie, Bridge of Earn, Comrie, Coupar Angus, Crieff, Dunkeld and Birnam, Errol, Glencarse, Inchture, Kinross, Luncarty, Methven, Milnathort, Pitlochry, Stanley and St Madoes – with eligible properties in Invergowrie, Perth and Scone also benefitting.
Project moving forward
The first phase of deployment on the project has now started with the first group of broadband exchange upgrades (Perth, Scone, Invergowrie, Methven and Almondbank) recently announced, with further upgrades expected to be confirmed in the near future and on a quarterly basis thereafter.
For the 10% of areas that would not have NGB access by the end of 2017, the Council is receiving technical advice through a Scottish Government initiative and there are national proposals to allocate funding to assist these communities. Further likely routes for possible funding in this respect are the Scottish Rural Development Programme, including the new LEADER Local Development Strategy for rural Perth and Kinross, currently being developed.
Council Leader, Councillor Ian Miller said: “In the interests of communities and businesses alike, it is vital that broadband access expands as quickly as possible in Perth and Kinross.
For that reason, we have committed over a million pounds to this joint project with the Scottish and UK Governments and the European Union. The aim here is to bridge the digital divide that rural communities are experiencing.
The initial announcement for Phase 1 of the project has already been made and I welcome that we should see the first areas getting enhanced access by this summer. We are also looking at ways, longer-term, to fill the gap for the remaining communities.
Our focus on further expansion of broadband will continue into the future.”
For more information, please visit www.pkc.gov.uk/broadband
Courtesy of PKC