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Scottish small.biz gets £1m broadband hand-out

Boost for rural areas

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Scottish businesses are to receive an extra £1m to help boost the take-up of broadband in rural areas. Those businesses eligible for hand-outs will be able to receive £1,000 towards a broadband service - such as two-way satellite - to help make their firms more productive.

It's hoped that the cash would further increase broadband take-up in areas of Scotland that won't have access to mass market broadband before autumn 2005.

Announcing the extra cash yesterday Enterprise Minister, Jim Wallace, said that the £2.2m available last year as part of the Scottish Business Broadband Incentive (SBBI) helped 3,000 small and medium sized companies (SMEs) buy a new business broadband connection.

The announcement was made during the Minister's visit to Midton Acrylics in Lochgilphead which got wired up to satellite broadband thanks to an earlier grant.

Said the Minister: "Broadband can make a real difference for rural businesses. Three thousand rural businesses have already taken advantage of our earlier incentive scheme. I have therefore decided to make a further £1m available to help companies in rural Scotland get connected to broadband.

"Broadband helps to remove some of the barriers which geography puts in the way of rural businesses. We are committed to growing Scotland's economy and it is clear to me that putting in place the technological infrastructure such as broadband is a key ingredient in our future economic success.

"That is why we are committed to rolling out broadband to every community in Scotland," he said.

In April BT announced plans to make DSL broadband available to 99.6 per cent of UK homes and businesses by summer 2005, bringing the UK "significantly closer to universal availability". The pledge means that every exchange in the UK - except for the very smallest, which account for fewer than 100,000 premises - will get ADSL by next summer. BT said it would continue to find other ways of delivering broadband to these areas. ®

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