The rollout of 5G will create a need for more physical infrastructure. This means more fibre-optic cable in the ground, or ‘backhaul’, and more 4G masts and a higher density of small cells to create the base layer of wireless infrastructure that 5G networks will need in order to function across Scotland. The Scottish Government has supported this by making substantial investment in the digital infrastructure across Scotland.
The Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband (DSSB) Programme has given more than 950,000 homes and businesses across Scotland access to fibre broadband. As a result, over 95% of premises in Scotland can now benefit from faster speeds, supporting businesses, healthcare and learning, whilst also connecting families, friends and communities.
The DSSB Programme has now evolved, with the Reaching 100 (R100) Programme now building upon its success. The R100 programme is a commitment to provide access to superfast broadband of 30 Megabits per second (Mbps) to every home and business in Scotland. The 100% target will be met as a result of three key activities – namely, the R100 contracts, a superfast broadband voucher scheme and commercial coverage. To find out more about the Scottish Broadband voucher scheme go to the website.
Ultimately, support will be provided to ensure that everyone can access a broadband service that can support superfast speeds by the end of 2021.
The S4GI Programme is backed by £15 million of Scottish Government funding and £10 million from the European Regional Development Fund. It will be delivered by WHP Telecoms and managed by the Scottish Futures Trust.
The aim of the programme is to implement 4G infrastructure in around 40 sites identified as 4G not spots in Scotland. In February 2020, the first 4G mast was delivered – residents in New Luce, Wigtownshire, now have access to 4G, 3G and 2G services from Vodafone. Check out progress here.
Digital connectivity and communications has been pivotal in recent months – supporting our health and emergency services, enabling many to work from home, and assisting people in connecting and communicating with friends and family.
Scottish Government recently released a statement for telecommunications operators regarding the build and maintenance of networks, in relation to Coronavirus.
To summarise, this statement confirmed telecoms as being a part of critical national infrastructure (CNI), and acknowledged telecoms staff, who have been undertaking critical maintenance and repairs throughout this challenging period, as being key workers.