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Last Updated: Sunday, 24 April, 2005, 23:10 GMT 00:10 UK
Broadband rollout by end of year
Computer cables
A broadband connection can speed things up for businesses
Every corner of Scotland will have access to broadband by the end of the year, according to ministers.

The Scottish Executive said it had reached agreement with BT over high speed internet access.

The telecoms company said 97.8% of the nation should have access to the service by the end of the summer.

Work on delivering broadband to the 20 rural and remote local authority areas currently without it is set to begin this week.

The Broadband for Scotland's Rural and Remote Areas initiative was established at the end of 2002.

We are putting in place an important business and educational tool to facilitate economic growth in every community
Jim Wallace
Enterprise Minister

It reached its target of bringing broadband access to 70% of households by the end of March 2004 ahead of schedule.

In June last year Enterprise Minister Jim Wallace announced a further target to extend access to 100% of Scotland by the end of 2005, within the limits of the available technology and budget.

Mr Wallace confirmed the plan was on track in an announcement on Monday.

He said: "We made a commitment in our partnership agreement to ensure every community in Scotland has access to broadband by the end of 2005.

New broadband areas
Aberdeenshire
Angus
Argyll and Bute
Borders
Dumfries and Galloway
East Ayrshire
East Lothian
East Renfrewshire
Fife
Highland
Midlothian
Moray
North Ayrshire
Orkney
Perth and Kinross
Shetland
South Ayrshire
South Lanarkshire
Stirling
West Dunbartonshire

"We cannot allow remote and rural communities to fall behind simply because they cannot access this vital technology that can make a positive difference to many aspects of our lives.

"By providing access to broadband technology in Scotland and the huge benefits it brings, we are putting in place an important business and educational tool to facilitate economic growth in every community."

The executive's contract with BT will result in the broadband-enabling of 378 of the 399 exchanges in Scotland that were not due to be enabled commercially.

This will deliver basic broadband to 51,000 households and 5,400 businesses that would not otherwise have had access to the technology.

The remaining 21 exchanges in the Western Isles are due to be enabled as part of the separate Connected Communities project, supported by the executive, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and the European Regional Development Fund.

European 'epicentre'

The director of BT Scotland, Bob Downes, said: "Delivering broadband to all of Scotland has been at the heart of BT Scotland strategy in recent years.

"Having invested in the region of 100m to bring broadband to 97.8% of the country by this summer, we welcome this opportunity to complete the framework.

"We look forward to working with the executive to overcome Scotland's unique geographical challenges and use technology to place Scotland at the technological, if not physical, epicentre of Europe."

He added broadband coverage will offer tremendous opportunities for education, public services and business life in the areas that will soon have access to it.




SEE ALSO:
Broadband help for rural business
03 Aug 04 |  Scotland
Busy women turn to the internet
30 Jun 04 |  Scotland
Wallace makes pledge on broadband
01 Jun 04 |  Scotland
Businesses urged to get broadband
23 May 04 |  Scotland
Borders pilots rural broadband
03 Feb 04 |  Scotland


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