The headline bandwidth figures are 40-80Mbs for 80-95% of Scotland’s premises by 2020, with the best connections physically possible pledged for rural areas. (Update 07.06.12) I’ve just heard first person Infrastructure Minister Alex Neil announce that £250m will be invested in the next 3 years in rural and remote broadband – mainly in the highlands and islands. The government expects the private sector to match that, investing c. £250m in urban areas. Fibre optic cable will be dug into the landscape of the Highlands and Islands to provide a substantial uplift to rural and remote bandwidth, although it might not reach 40mb. The government is also making a seed fund available – opening this month – of £5m for communities that want to scale up their broadband now, through community and local initiatives ahead of the roll-out of the national programme.
(Its interesting that there are over 3000 community projects running in Sweden in the countryside – “Fibre to the Farm” involves each community member pledging that they will dig their own trenches/create overhead cable carriers from their house or farm to the road: the provider then comes and puts the cable ducts and fibre in the roads, each participant pays €3-4k one-off connection fee. Sweden are also pushing for 50% of usage of their bigger bandwidth broadband to be used by community and citizen services – healthcare digital visits, e-school, etc.)
Next Generation technology opportunities:
- Scotland can be THE Destination for clean, green, data centres – we have the natural environment to deliver this.
- The business sector of Scotland will be able to move wholescale to the cloud with all services (delivery of e-services, taking e-payments, operational infrastructure systems). This is great news – I currently can’t advise highland and island organisations to move onto the cloud business critical services like e-payments as the satellite bandwidth is too slow, and latency issues with payment systems are a security risk. Cloud computing is also greener as clients can be thinner and organisations don’t need to upkeep servers on site.
- Savings for households as they find it easier to shop online and find the best deals.
- Different job opportunities. For example, Apple in Ireland employ call centre support staff who are homeworkers based in rural and remote locations: the essential advertised job criteria includes that you can prove you have min spec 5mb down, 1 mb up. Amazon’s criteria for remote and rural workers is 4mb down.
- Faster trades and faster online gaming: real-time trading in Scotland will be possible without latency, with better ping times – meaning more auctions, games and trades won.
- Less latency also means a better user experience with VoIP, teleconferencing and live streaming services, meaning more people will become comfortable with using them, and they’ll become a normal method of undertaking a meeting, event or training session.
Different job opportunities and better business connectivity means that service businesses can be set up wherever, and people can work from wherever, hopefully meaning less rural population decline, as well as far greener working practices with demand for less business travel and commuting.