Rural areas of Fife not yet blessed with superfast broadband coverage may not have too much longer to wait.
For Fife Council has rubber-stamped a one-off investment to support new ways of extending broadband supply to the 1.6% of Fife premises not included in the national Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband rollout taking place.
Around 176,000 Fife premises are expected to have access to fibre optic broadband by March 2018 under the national scheme, but that would leave around 2,800 in the region still without a connection.
However, Fife councillors yesterday vowed to plough £150,000 into alternative ways of extending coverage in the blackspot areas, as well as additional funding for wi-fi deployments to benefit rural parts.
Confirming the cash injection, Councillor Lesley Laird, depute leader and executive spokesperson for economy and planning, said: “Fast internet access is essential for Fifebased firms and residents to increase connectivity, boost business growth and drive competitiveness. That’s why Fife Council is investing in this new infrastructure that will further transform the ability of Fife to attract investment, create jobs and help make Fife the best place to do business.
“The additional funding and new projects are crucial steps in enabling people across Fife to get connected at home or work any time, using any device.”
Superfast broadband is defined by the European Union as speeds of at least 24 megabits per second, and the national Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband (DSSB) initiative aims to take the technology to areas where commercial infrastructure providers have chosen not to develop.
For the few areas that will not see any benefit through DSSB, Fife Council is working with Community Broadband Scotland (CBS) and community groups to devise other ways of delivering faster broadband.
The local authority and the newly-formed Community Initiatives North East Fife have joined forces with CBS to ensure that residents and businesses in north east Fife that will not be reached by the Digital Scotland programme, or commercial deployments, still get the advantages of better broadband.
A similar project in south west Fife is being considered and a consultation is to take place over the coming months.
Meanwhile, the council has also confirmed it will work with the Scottish Futures Trust to develop an assessment of current public wi-fi availability and submit an application to the Scottish Government for additional funding from the £1.5 million tranche recently announced by Deputy First Minister John Swinney to develop digital inclusion.