To become a prosperous successful nation, world-class digital connectivity isn’t just a nice thing to have, it’s a necessity.
Scotland has the ambition where every man, woman and child living or working in Scotland has the opportunity to reap the social and economic benefits of being better connected. The benefits of such an ambition are clear to see as, as has been well documented, if Scotland were to become a digital world leader, over 5,000 new businesses and an extra 30,000 jobs would be created, thereby boosting our nation’s economic output by £13bn.
Working towards that goal, we’ve taken the lead to develop a well-defined approach to implement Scottish Government’s World-Class digital vision, with our team focusing its attention on developing a programme to enhance digital infrastructure investment and its delivery.
Our digital team has further developed Scotland’s World Class delivery route map, by identifying the following six pillars which are fundamental to support future digital infrastructure:
Fibre – For Scotland to become a digitally world class nation, it is a fundamental requirement to have fibre reach out as far as possible.
Ducting – And to deliver fibre more cost effectively, shared access to existing or new underground ducting is paramount, delivered in the right place at the right time.
Masts – There will be a need for many more masts, particularly in rural areas to deliver a first class user experience.
Spectrum – With increased data demand, the demands on spectrum will increase leading to a focus on sharing or re-farming existing bands and auctioning off new bands.
Power – As the number of urban and rural use cases increase, the number of connected devices will grow exponentially requiring the development of a diverse range of sustainable power solutons.
Internet exchanges – Internet exchanges on Scotland’s doorstep will support the delivery of the local user content required to deliver the 5G experience of the future.
These pillars form the basis of our thinking in building a framework for considering how Scotland’s digital infrastructure can be future-proofed.
In leading and developing our Demonstrating Digital work stream, the findings and lessons we’ve learned have been used to shape the World Class work stream. This in turn has informed the development of a cutting-edge Scottish Innovation Programme (SIP) as well as a 5G Hub.
Following our pioneering work in securing 4G for the islanders of Coll, activity has been undertaken to develop the Islands Connectivity and 4G Mobile Infill programmes, each designed to deliver connectivity to some of the most remote areas of Scotland.
As part of our wider support to the R100 programme (Reaching 100% - a commitment by Scottish Government to get superfast broadband to all households by 2021), this year the Islands Connectivity and 4G Mobile Infill programmes will be developed further with the aim of bringing one project to market.
We continue to work with Scottish Government and other important stakeholders such as Ofcom and UK Government to ensure there’s not only coordination and evolution of public sector thinking, but programmes, such as the Emergency Services Mobile Communications Project, are future-proofed.
For 2017/18, we’ll further develop the World Class route map with targeted initiatives and programmes that support the development of our six pillars of digital infrastructure. We’ll work with industry to deliver and monitor the £500k of Scottish Government grant funding to deliver enhanced internet exchange capability.
A strategy will be developed to deliver growth in Scottish Datacentre capability, as well as attracting new, international connectivity to the internet to support Scotland’s capability.
Innovation and working with industry will be at the heart of our upcoming activity. SIP and development of a 5G hub offer the opportunity to trial new technologies and approaches, furthering coverage and connectivity and providing a testbed for the 5G world across Scotland.
Objectives for 2017/18
- As part of the wider R100 Programme, finalise the delivery approach for the Islands Connectivity and 4G mobile infill programmes to enable at least one of them to be ready for procurement during 2017/18
- Continue to work with industry and the regulator to implement key components of the world class digital strategy and route map
- Work with industry to develop the SIP to support wider industry collaboration to invest in new technology in Scotland
- Work with the SIP and the 5G Hub to support at least one R&D project in Scotland
- Work with key partners to deliver and monitor the £500k grant funding available for enhanced internet exchange capability
- Work with key public sector partners (Scottish Government, Scottish Enterprise and Scottish Development International) and industry to develop an investment strategy for enhanced international connectivity, internet exchanges and data centres within Scotland