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Last Updated: Tuesday, 1 June, 2004, 13:27 GMT 14:27 UK
Wallace makes pledge on broadband
Computer cables
Broadband is 10 times faster than dial-up connections
The Scottish Executive will ensure communities throughout Scotland have access to broadband by the end of 2005, the enterprise minister has said.

It wants businesses and people in rural areas to take advantage of the faster internet connections which most towns and cities utilise.

Jim Wallace said previous attempts to get people connected had mixed results.

He said the executive had met its initial broadband target and economic growth was its "top priority".

Broadband is 10 times faster than a dial-up connection and can remove the frustration of slow download times.

Earlier this month, it emerged that one in five Scots businesses used broadband, compared to one in four across the UK as a whole.

Economic growth

Mr Wallace announced details of the scheme during a visit to an environmental firm, Codyne Limited, in Aberdeenshire, which recently installed broadband.

The minister said broadband access was vital to the executive's drive for economic growth.

"This is particularly important to companies operating in the more remote parts of Scotland where traditional communications can present challenges," he said.

Enterprise Minister Jim Wallace
We reached our (broadband) target ahead of time
Enterprise Minister Jim Wallace
"Codyne Limited is a great example of how broadband can increase business success and open up new markets.

"We reached our target ahead of time, of 70% coverage for broadband in Scotland by the end of March (this year)."

Codyne Limited, based in Portlethen, which employs five people, said broadband had helped to improve its performance.

The company's Ed Gardyne said: "There is no doubt that broadband facilitates enterprise.

"We are now able to check the uniqueness of our developing products on the internet and explore more quickly the possibility of global partnerships.

"We have three or four exclusive UK partnership deals with US or global companies which grew from initial contact through the internet."

The Scottish National Party said while it welcomed the announcement, it was concerned about affordability.

SNP MSP Kenny MacAskill said: "This announcement should make broadband accessible, but that access will only be taken up if the price is right, and we have seen precious little detail as yet on how much this service will cost."

Small communities

The Scottish Tories accused the executive of being five years too late with its broadband initiative.

Tory MSP David Mundell said: "In the last five years more could have been done for existing businesses in our smallest communities, more could have been established and more young people with families attracted to live in these areas.

"However, now that there is going to be an opportunity for virtually everyone to access broadband services I hope there will be as wide a take up as possible."

The executive launched a 2.75m initiative in November last year to promote broadband.

Research carried out at the time indicated that broadband coverage north of the border was running at 65%, 15% lower than the rest of the UK.


SEE ALSO:
Businesses urged to get broadband
23 May 04  |  Scotland
Comics join broadband campaign
21 Nov 03  |  Scotland
Broadband heads for islands
06 Oct 03  |  Scotland


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