Gavin Patterson: Achieving a truly digital Scotland

More than 1.8 million Scottish premises can now access fibre broadband. Picture: Ian Rutherford
More than 1.8 million Scottish premises can now access fibre broadband. Picture: Ian Rutherford
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SUPERFAST broadband will be available to 95 per cent of Scots by March 2018, writes Gavin Patterson

Superfast fibre broadband has emerged as one of the hottest topics of recent years for communities across Scotland. Increasingly, it is a “must have” technology.

Households and businesses are using it for everything from selling products to filling in government forms, helping with education, adding to entertainment or simply staying in touch.

A great deal has already been achieved thanks to the £410 million Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband partnership between the Scottish and UK governments, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, local authorities, BT and others.

More than 1.8 million Scottish premises can now access fibre broadband as a result of the partnership and BT’s own commercial rollout of this exciting technology. By the end of March 2018, Scottish coverage is expected to have reached around 95 per cent.

But what about the people not yet included in any existing rollout plan or not already engaged with Community Broadband Scotland?

Part of BT’s mission has to be to listen to those worried they’re not in any current upgrade programme – and do what we can to help.

We’ve just announced our commitment to work with communities to find a fibre solution and have set up a community fibre partnership scheme to enable this. Our strong ambition is to never to say “no” and rather to work together until we have agreed a suitable and affordable option.

Indeed, we’ve already worked with 90 UK communities where local people have got together and pooled resources.

If any Scottish community contacts us at www.openreach.co.uk/community fibre we’ll do whatever we can to help, including co-funding if we can.

This initiative will complement the main fibre deployment and the Community Broadband Scotland programme already operating across Scotland, with everyone pulling together to deliver a truly Digital Scotland.

Together with government, local authorities and local communities, we can achieve a level of coverage which would have been considered almost impossible just a few years ago.

• Gavin Patterson is chief executive of BT

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