We are living in a digital age and the ability to be able to get online supports us to do many things from finding out information, access services, and of course being able to connect with each other online to tackle loneliness and isolation.
While telecommunications is reserved, the Scottish Government has taken action to ensure Scotland is better connected.
Our £579 million investment in the expansion of superfast broadband means every home and business in South and Central Scotland will have access by 2023, with work in the North of Scotland completed in the next five years.
Through the Scottish Broadband Voucher Scheme we will provide funding of up to £5,000 to help homes and businesses obtain superfast broadband in areas where providers may not ordinarily go, ensuring that everyone can access and benefit from this world-leading digital capability.
By the end of 2022, 16 new subsea fibre cables will have been laid to Scottish islands. We will use this to support the creation of gigabit islands with full 5G services and connectivity from mobile providers, testing the concept on 8 islands in 4 local authority areas.
We expect Scotland to get its fair share of the UK Government’s £5 billion investment for gigabit capability. We will press for £300 million of this to enable Scotland to reach 85% gigabit capable by 2025.
We will update planning and building regulations and rules so that digital connectivity is treated as an essential utility, like energy and water, and is standard in all new housing developments in the future. We will extend the current 10 year rates relief on new fibre broadband investment for a further 5 years.
In this Parliament, on top of the 11 already built, we will invest £25 million to install at least 39 masts to provide mobile coverage in remote rural and island communities.