Modernise Scottish broadband

Monday 16th August 2010
Google testing at 1Gbps broadband. Courtesy:

Reform Scotland, whose last cached website publication refers to deferred fees making higher education fairer, has now published a report that claims the UK and Scotland were at risk of being left behind if it fails to modernise its broadband network.

In news apparently only released to the BBC Scotland  and not available on the website  the report apparently urges an investment of some £200m to modernise its future lifeblood broadband network the think tank is reported to have deduced.

Public subsidy it is claimed will be be necessary to upgrade links in the most rural parts of Scotland, and the report points out, yet again, that the entire UK, not just Scotland is already being left behind by comprehensive broadband development  in other countries.

Pointing out that as railways were to the first industrial revolution, so broadband is to the internet/web revolution and the cost likely to provide as good an investment return as replacing the Forth Road Bridge or building an already obsoleting tram line in Edinburgh, the think tank is reported to have joined those urgin that a Scottish technology minister   be created  whose role would be to ensure Scotland had a co-ordinated plan for improving broadband, both in its speed and in its reach across Scotland and in overseeing the next generation of highspeed broadband spinoff services and developments.

"If Scotland is to compete with other countries and with other regions of the UK, then in an increasingly digital world, we must move quickly to develop a plan to build a fibre network across large areas of Scotland with enhanced copper, wireless and, exceptionally, satellite at the edges of the networks."

The report highlights the target across the UK of ensuring universal coverage at 2Mbps, though the new government has pushed that back from 2012 to 2015. About a fifth of Scotland's homes and businesses lie too far from the nearest telecom exchange to be able to reach this target within five years. The next target is to lift that to 50Mb across 90% of the UK by 2017, but it is pointed out that Scotland wasmore  likely to include most of the excluded 10%.

An industry advisory group on information and communications technologies has also recommended a strategy intended to accelerate the sector's growth and claims that it already accounts for 48,000 jobs, and a further 60,000 IT professionals across other sectors.

In a highly competitive industry globally worth US $3.8trn in 2008, the group said a well co-ordinated approach between private industry, educational institutions and the public sector was vital. The intention is to focus on increasing the rate of internationalisation of companies, creating more companies making products, improving access to capital, driving more innovation and attracting and retaining key skills.

The industry advisory group has been working with
government economic agency Scottish Enterprise.

Software entrepreneur, Gerry Docherty (right) part of the wireless innovation initiative, and chairman of ScotlandIS says "The industry in Scotland is already an impressive and important one. But our new strategy will look at how we can make even more of the opportunities to transform the industry in Scotland.

"Our vision is that Scotland will have a reputation as one of the most active and fast growing locations for ambitious high-growth information and computer technology companies globally."

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