A strategy to get more people using the internet, with greater access to high-speed broadband, has been launched by the Scottish Government.
Says a press statement issued to announce the strategy, Culture minister, Fiona Hyslop, “set out how the Government aims to achieve its ambitions for Scotland's digital future. They include the widespread rollout of next generation broadband and increased digital participation”.
The minister is quoted, saying: “The digital age offers many opportunities for all of Scotland to grow and prosper. The Scottish Government's Digital Strategy makes clear our commitment to do all we can to take advantage of emerging technologies for the benefit of the whole country.
“Last week we published our updated Economic Recovery Plan, setting out how we would strengthen growth as we emerge from the recession. This strategy is a crucial part of our work to establish an economic environment that is attractive to growth companies.
“Digital advances are vital to the development of those sectors of the Scottish economy which have potential to drive future growth, such as our world-leading creative industries and life sciences. Improving digital infrastructure, skills and participation will help us build on these successes and provide opportunities for everyone in Scotland to flourish.
“We want next generation broadband to be available throughout Scotland by 2020 with significant progress by 2015, and for the rate of broadband uptake in Scotland to match and then overtake the UK average. This strategy sets out how we will achieve these ambitions.
“There is a clear role for the public sector in realising Scotland's digital future – widening access to services online, encouraging increased digital participation and coordinating the rollout of next generation broadband.
“These are the key issues that need to be addressed but we also recognise that funding can play a part, which is why we are today announcing £1.5 million for a programme of activity in 2011/12 to improve the uptake and use of broadband. It includes support to get more businesses online and £500,000 to continue a fund for Scottish libraries, in recognition of their role providing communities with free broadband access and increasing levels of digital participation.
“The private sector is already taking the lead by upgrading infrastructure to improve access and speed and we want this to continue. The Scottish Government will do all it can to work with industry to ensure next generation broadband is available across the whole of Scotland, with a particular focus on rural provision. The Highlands and Islands' successful bid to pilot superfast broadband is a significant step forward and we must now look to establishing a digital future for all.”