Friday, 26 July 2013

£1.1m Council backing for hi-speed broadband

North Ayrshire Council has announced it is to invest £1.1m to provide local businesses and residents with access to “cutting-edge, high-speed broadband infrastructure”.

The programme forms part of the wider ‘Scottish Step Change Project’, which will see an estimated 99% of mainland North Ayrshire provided with access to high speed fibre broadband – a major increase on the current planned commercial roll-out figure of 70%.  The initiative would see North Ayrshire outstrip the Scottish target of 85% by 2015 and 95% by 2017, with the local area being propelled into the UK’s best-performing broadband zones.

Cllr Marie Burns, North Ayrshire Council’s SNP Cabinet Member for Economy and Employment, said, “The move to fibre broadband will make a huge difference, particularly for local businesses.

“Fast, secure broadband is no longer a luxury and is vital for businesses - especially those operating internationally.  Indeed, a lack of high-quality internet connections and web presence can be a major disadvantage.”

Cllr Burns added, “Over the last few years we have been working with local business and BT to improve broadband provision in many of our communities.  This £1.1-million investment demonstrates our commitment to high-quality connectivity and builds on this previous work to ensure businesses in North Ayrshire not only operate on a level playing field, but can enjoy the advantages that cutting-edge technology brings.”

The investment forms part of the SNP Scottish Government’s £264m high speed broadband programme.  The project will be delivered by BT, which is investing £106.7m in the partnership, and is being led by the Scottish Government, working together with local authorities and Broadband Delivery UK in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.  Initial priority will be given to rural, small and medium sized businesses.

For the Scottish Government, Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon MSP said, “This is the start of one of the most ambitious infrastructure projects in the whole of Europe.  It will connect communities across rural and urban areas, providing a platform for future economic development and regeneration.

“Next generation broadband enables businesses to compete on the international stage.  It has the potential to transform the way in which we educate our children, provide health and social care and deliver our public services.  It provides Scotland with a platform upon which we can build and sustain a world class digital country.”

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