The need for significant improvements in digital connectivity is highlighted as a priority in the National Park Partnership Plan 2017-2022 and the Cairngorms Economic Strategy
“High speed broadband is of significant importance for the future of rural people, services and economies.” Rural Broadband – Reframing the Debate; Plunkett Foundation & Carnegie UK Trust
The roll out of the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband programme (DSSB) by HIE and The Scottish Government, working with BT Openreach, is now complete. The project, which began in 2013, has met its target to reach 95% of premises across Scotland (coverage was 66% at start of the DSSB project). To access Superfast Broadband you will need to order and pay for it through an Internet Service Provider (ISP). There are a range of suppliers offering the service, you can check if it is available at your premises HERE.
In December 2017 the Scottish Government announced an investment of £600m for the new R100 programme. The aim of the programme is to achieve 100% superfast broadband coverage across Scotland by 2021, delivering connectivity to the hardest to reach communities first. This is the biggest public investment ever made in a UK broadband project, over double the amount of public funding committed to the DSSB roll-out. A State Aid consultation has been undertaken and no responses were received from communities or the private sector in the National Park so all premises that cannot currently access speeds of 24Mbps and over are in scope for R100.
In late 2017 the Government issued procurement notices for delivery of R100 in three lots. The Cairngorms National Park falls entirely within the “North lot”. Bidders will be shortlisted in 2018 and contracts issued in December 2018. Until contracts are awarded we do not expect to receive any further information.
Cairngorms Community Broadband Ltd was set up in 2016 to address poor connectivity in the Cairngorms area. With the announcement of the Scottish Government’s R100 programme, which is planned to reach all of the premises within the remit of CCB Ltd, CCB Directors decided to suspend the company.
Given the emergence of R100 Community Broadband Scotland (CBS) has changed focus to become the HIE Digital Communities team, further details can be found HERE.