Community groups in Scotland that want to roll out local, super-fast broadband will soon be able to apply for government funding to do so.
The Scottish government announced a new £5m pot on Thursday. This money is separate from the £120m Highlands and Islands funding announced in late June, the £32m announced in early June and the £69m announced a year ago.
Those tranches of cash are most likely going to go to BT as an incentive to extend its high-speed access network into far-flung parts of Scotland, whereas the new funding is for community broadband projects.
Under the new scheme, communities will be able to apply for seed funding for local rollouts. From October, they will get access to a telephone helpline and a website offering advice and support, along with a "dedicated team of staff" working on the ground, the Scottish government said in a statement.
"Broadband should not be considered a luxury in rural areas; it is essential to enhance the quality of life and stimulate the growth of the local economy," Scottish infrastructure secretary Alex Neil said. "This investment of £5m, over the next three years, will see targeted support being provided to community projects to enable them to deliver broadband solutions for their areas."
According to the government, the seed fund will target the 10-15 percent of communities that are least likely to benefit from the other cash that has been announced — presumably because they are the remotest of the remote.
The first to benefit will be the Elvanfoot Development Group in very rural Lanarkshire.
"We're absolutely thrilled to have this project initiated in Elvanfoot and are really excited about being able to access advice and support to get our local community broadband-connected, with all the social and economic benefits that connectivity will bring," group secretary Amanda Burgauer said.