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Last Updated: Thursday, 29 December 2005, 12:39 GMT
Communities get broadband access
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Broadband is seen to have benefits for business
A project which aimed to give every community in Scotland access to broadband services has been completed, ministers have announced.

Over the last eight months some 378 remote and rural telephone exchanges - a third of the Scottish total - have been upgraded.

The Scottish Executive said the scheme would bring "far-reaching" business and educational benefits.

The project is part of the executive's 24m broadband initiative.

It was run in partnership with BT, which said it was "a great engineering achievement" to bring broadband to so many exchanges in such a short period of time.

Broadband can make a real difference to businesses, particularly for those in rural areas
Nicol Stephen
Deputy First Minister

"The completion of this project is a significant milestone in the delivery and exploitation of broadband-enabled communications for Scotland," said BT Scotland general manager Brendan Dick.

Deputy First Minister Nicol Stephen said it was "very good news" that the executive had met its broadband commitment.

"Scotland's future economic prosperity depends on our having fast, reliable connections to worldwide communications networks," he said.

"Broadband can make a real difference to businesses, particularly for those in rural areas.

Interim solution

"It helps them become more efficient, promote their products and services and break into new national and global markets. It is also an important training and educational tool."

The scheme brought broadband to exchanges where there were no plans for commercial services.

The only one which has still to be fully enabled serves Foula in Shetland, although an interim solution is already providing broadband access in the area.

The exchanges serving the Western Isles are covered by a separate project being led by Highlands and Islands Enterprise.

Out of reach

Services have been launched in most of its areas, with the remainder due to come on stream within the next few months.

The executive said some people who live far away from the exchanges were unable to access broadband due to the limitations of ADSL technology.

"While the executive is not committed to providing broadband to every household, it has however been working to identify any clusters of 'out of reach' households in Scotland where there is a demand for broadband," said a spokesman.

"The executive is developing the next steps for providing solutions to these 'clusters' over 2006, subject to criteria, including budget and value for money."

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