The Scottish Government has set ambitious policy objectives aimed at delivering world class digital infrastructure across Scotland by 2020.
As a key first step, the Scottish Government, Highlands and Islands Enterprise ( HIE), local authority partners and the private sector are investing over £410 million in the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband ( DSSB) programme that is extending fibre broadband infrastructure into non-commercial areas.
Alongside commercial rollout, the DSSB programme will extend access to fibre broadband to 85% of premises by 2015/16 and at least 95% of premises across Scotland by 2017/18.
The DSSB programme is being delivered through two regional projects - one covering the Highlands and Islands; the other covering the Rest of Scotland. Procurement of the Highlands and Islands project was led by HIE. The process started in June 2011, before the BDUK Framework was in place, so the project was tendered through an open procurement process, which went through an Official Journal of the European Union ( OJEU) Competitive Dialogue procedure. A State Aid Public Consultation was concluded in August 2012, and the procurement contract was awarded to BT in March 2013.
The Rest of Scotland project procurement was led by the Scottish Government using the BDUK framework. An Open Market Review ( OMR) was completed in July 2012, with a State Aid Public Consultation finalised in March 2013. BT was awarded the contract in July 2013 with State aid approved public funding of £270m.
This consultation refers only to the Rest of Scotland project. A consultation for the Highlands and Islands project was issued on the 23 rd March 2016 by Highlands and Islands Enterprise.
The contracts with BT included provisions to ensure that the full amount of the public funding is deployed, and that in the event that take-up of superfast broadband services exceeds forecasts in the contracts, then the amount of public subsidy required would subsequently be reduced to reflect this. Any funds released are then available to be reinvested into further coverage of Superfast Broadband under the terms of the contracts.
In August 2015, BT announced that take-up across the UK was likely to exceed the forecast level of 20%. To date, BT has made available up to £129m across the UK to meet the contractual obligations outlined above.
The Rest of Scotland project has received an initial allocation of £15.6m and intends to reinvest this in further coverage as part of the current contracts - the so-called "Gainshare".
The purpose of this public consultation is to confirm the areas which do not have Next Generation Access ( NGA) broadband infrastructure delivering at least 30Mbps, or where there are no plans to provide such infrastructure over the next three years. These are described as "white NGA areas". This is to enable all interested stakeholders - the public, businesses and telecommunications providers - to comment on the proposed white NGA areas before the use of this £15.6m Gainshare funding is committed.
The Scottish Government will then submit its final proposals for the NGA white area, taking account of the outcome of the public consultation, to BDUK's National Competence Centre for clearance.