Every pound invested in fibre broadband in Scotland returns nearly £12 to the Scottish economy, according to a study.
A report by telecoms and technology consultants Analysys Mason was commissioned to look at the benefits brought by a public and private investment project to roll out fibre broadband across the country.
The Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband (DSSB) programme was launched in 2013 and is backed by funding from a range of partners including the Scottish Government, the UK Government, the European Union, and BT Group.
Around £442 million has been invested or committed to the programme since 2014, with roughly 930,000 homes and businesses across Scotland now able to connect to fibre broadband.
It is estimated the investment will help to boost the Scottish economy by £2.76 billion over 15 years.
Connectivity Minister Paul Wheelhouse said the projected economic benefits of the programme represent a positive return on investment.
He said: “Thanks to the programme, and combined with commercial coverage, the programme met its target to deliver fibre broadband access to 95% of Scotland premises by December 2017.
“Deployment has continued since, with around 930,000 premises now capable of accessing fibre broadband.
“The report reaffirmed that the average broadband speed has tripled between 2014 and 2017, which again is linked to the success of DSSB
“The total benefit associated with the DSSB programme estimated by this study is £2.76 billion over 15 years, which represents a strong positive return on public funds used for the deployment
“That is money well spent and shows what can be delivered for people and businesses in Scotland when Government works together with public agencies and private providers on a shared ambition.”
This report reinforces just how positive the DSSB programme has been across Scotland – not just in the present but in the future Sara Budge, DSSB programme director
Dr Matt Yardley, one of the report authors, said: “We believe the DSSB Programme has delivered a range of quantifiable benefits to businesses, consumers and government across Scotland.
“In addition, we expect the programme will help unlock other longer-term benefits such as those relating to social inclusion and social cohesion, education and the environment.”
The report concluded cost efficiencies, additional BT Group investment and higher-than-expected broadband take-up rates within the DSSB intervention area have resulted in extended coverage.
Sara Budge, DSSB programme director said: “Thanks to its innovation the DSSB programme has laid a real legacy for the future.
“It has also allowed things like working from home to become a reality – helping many people’s work-life balances.
“This report reinforces just how positive the DSSB programme has been across Scotland – not just in the present but in the future.”
Brendan Dick, chair of the Openreach board in Scotland, welcomed the report.
He said: “The conclusion that public money has been used very effectively shows that Openreach is a trusted partner for Scotland.
“As well as contributing a third of the total cost of the Digital Scotland project, we have delivered value for money for Scottish taxpayers, who include thousands of our workforce.
“From the start the whole team’s focus has been on reaching the most people possible with the funds available, which meant difficult decisions had to be made. There is more to do, and we’ve committed an extra £20 million to the project to help reach even more communities.”