Monday, August 20, 2012

Scotland - Scottish Govt finds £5 million for rural broadband

The Scotsman reports a £5 million programme backed by the Scottish Government.

According to the Kincardineshire Observer, this was welcomed by Nanette Milne, Scottish Conservative MSP for the North East. Cable reports similar support from Richard Lochhead, MSP for Moray.

Despite this enthusiasm, the original press release from Alex Neil MSP is remarkably vague on who is eligible or what the money is to be spent on.

The Community Broadband Scotland initiative will act as a one-stop-shop for rural community groups, providing them with information and advice to find solutions for broadband delivery in their areas.

Communities will be eligible to apply for seed funding under the initiative to enable them to obtain greater access to the internet.

The first round of funding will focus on supporting a small number of community projects, which will be used as case studies for wider roll out across Scotland.

CBS is a partnership between Scottish Government, Highlands & Islands Enterprise (HIE), Scottish Enterprise, COSLA and Local Government.

CBS will provide a suite of support mechanisms including advice, guidance and toolkits; an online and telephone resource; a network of staff on the ground delivering hands on advice and support locally to communities; and a Rural Seed Fund.

It will initially be targeted at communities in the 10-15% least likely to benefit from a next generation broadband (NGB) solution under the Step Change 2015 Programme and will provide an opportunity for those communities to take greater ownership, progress more quickly and trial innovative technology and business models.

The commitment to invest £5 million initially over the next three years in a Rural Seed Fund was made in the Infrastructure Action Plan. Round 1 (Pioneer Phase) of the fund (up to £1m) will be focussed on providing targeted support to a small number of community projects.

For Argyll notes that much of this is unintelligble, making it is almost impossible to apply for the money, it being unclear how much there is or what you can bid for.

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