Every public pound invested in fibre broadband in Scotland is delivering almost £12 of benefits to the Scottish economy, research has revealed.
Since 2014, £442 million has been invested or committed to the Scottish Government’s Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband (DSSB) programme through a unique partnership of public and private sector investment.
About 930,000 homes and business across Scotland are now able to connect to fibre broadband due to the programme.
As many as 4,500 fibre street cabinets have been deployed alongside more than 11,000km of cable, including subsea cable for 20 crossings to Scottish islands.
The research commissioned by DSSB and undertaken by telecoms, media and technology consultants, Analysys Mason, estimates the total benefit from this investment as £2.76 billion over 15 years.
Paul Wheelhouse, Minister for Energy, Connectivity and the Islands, said: “Thanks to the programme, and combined with commercial coverage, the programme met its target to deliver fibre broadband access to 95% of Scotland premises by December 2017. Deployment has continued since, with around 930,000 premises now capable of accessing fibre broadband. The report reaffirmed that the average broadband speed has tripled between 2014 and 2017.
“The total benefit associated with the DSSB programme estimated by this study is £2.76 billion, which represents a strong positive return on public funds used for the deployment. This means that for every £1 of public funding, £11.60 of economic benefit will be produced and shared amongst business and consumers. That is money well spent and shows what can be delivered for people and businesses in Scotland when government works together with public agencies and private providers on a shared ambition.”
The evaluation also concluded that the programme had set the foundation for other digital developments in Scotland, as well as laying a platform to realise the full potential of e-health and e-government benefits in the future.
Dr Matt Yardley, one of the report authors, said: “We believe the DSSB Programme has delivered a range of quantifiable benefits to businesses, consumers and government across Scotland. In addition, we expect the programme will help unlock other longer-term benefits such as those relating to social inclusion and social cohesion, education and the environment.”
The report also concluded that cost efficiencies, additional BT Group investment and higher-than-expected broadband take up rates within the DSSB intervention area have resulted in extended coverage.
Brendan Dick, chair of the Openreach board in Scotland, said: “From the start the whole team’s focus has been on reaching the most people possible with the funds available, which meant difficult decisions had to be made. There is more to do, and we’ve committed an extra £20 million to the project to help reach even more communities.
“Scotland’s reliable and extensive digital connectivity is one of the qualities that makes it appealing as a place to invest and do business. Today’s report reinforces the impact that has on our prospects for economic growth.”