Scotland and Ireland receive wi-fi and broadband boost

Scotland's most rural and remote areas are to receive £5 million in investment to connect them to fast broadband access, it has been announced.

The funding given to Community Broadband Scotland (CBS) will also provide support to the community including staff to deliver advice and hands on support.

The initiative, set up by the Scottish Government, aims to deliver broadband infrastructure across the whole of Scotland by the end of the decade, allowing residents access to public services, enhancing their quality of life, and supporting local economies.

It will be distributed over the next three years, where eligible communities will need to apply for seed funding.

The announcement, made in Elvanfoot, a rural village in South Lanarkshire, is one community that relies on dial-up internet and will benefit from the scheme.

Aileen Campbell, the SNP MSP for the Clydesdale constituency welcomed the announcement, saying that access to broadband was 'not a luxury' but an 'important part of everyday life'.

The announcement follows the introduction of wi-fi on the first six London Underground stations during the Olympic Games. The wi-fi service is currently free for all passengers until the end of the Paralylmpic games, when it will only become free for customers of Virgin Media - the provider of the wi-fi service at the stations.

Elsewhere, Northern Ireland is set to benefit from free wi-fi is which is to be introduced on key Translink bus and rail services, including coach services to Dublin, later in the year.

Translink will join London Transport and Transport for South Hampshire as the only public transport companies in the UK to offer a free wi-fi service that aims to make public transport a more attractive alternative to commuters.

The Government pledged in the March Budget to fund ultra-fast broadband and wi-fi in ten of the UK's largest cities, including Edinburgh, Belfast, Cardiff and London, to support businesses.
Some business groups argue this does not go far enough.

Research from the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) in May found that six in ten SMEs suffer with poor broadband connection, with many expecting their reliance on the service to increase in future years.

It wants to see the Government's pledge extended so that 98 per cent of rural communities and businesses have access to a 20 Mbps superfast broadband connection by 2015.