Multimillion pound broadband boost to tackle digital inequality
The Scottish National Investment Bank has committed £20 million of cornerstone funding to Lothian Broadband Group (LBG) to help tackle digital inequality in rural communities and small towns in Scotland.
The Bank’s funding commitment is in addition to £5 million of new investment from the company’s current shareholders and is part of Lothian Broadband Group’s plans to invest £75 million to connect over 70,000 new premises in rural communities and small towns across Scotland over the next four years.
LBG is already investing to deliver full-fibre broadband across East Lothian. Today’s announcement signals an expansion of LBG’s geographic ambitions, with funding now secured to drive further operational scale-up and rapidly accelerate fibre deployment in 2022.
Digital inequality has been heightened during the pandemic, and the Bank will be supporting a strong and experienced management team to roll out a future-proofed broadband network to tens of thousands of households and businesses who would otherwise be waiting years before receiving a Gigabit-capable broadband service.
Eilidh Mactaggart, CEO of the Scottish National Investment Bank said: “The Bank’s investment provides the cornerstone funding required for LBG to rapidly accelerate its operational scale-up and fibre deployment in 2022.
“This investment will support the improvement of digital connectivity in rural and semi-rural areas of Scotland, helping to address inequality of access to digital infrastructure outside of our cities and major towns.”
One of the Bank’s three key missions is to extend the equality of opportunity by improving places. The LBG investment will help increase digital connectivity to under serviced communities.
A vibrant rural digital economy can also help reduce car journeys and assist a just transition to net zero by 2045.
Gavin Rodgers, CEO of Lothian Broadband said: “The backing of the Scottish National Investment Bank enables us to continue our rapid scale up as we establish the leading fibre-to-the-premise deployment platform for rural communities and small towns across Scotland.
“This new investment supports LBG’s commitment to building quality digital infrastructure and our inclusive, community-based approach to every village and town we serve.”
The Bank’s investment supports UK and Scottish government commitments to high-speed broadband access. The UK Government has a target of at least 85% of the population having access to gigabit (1,000 Mbps) broadband by 2025 under its National Infrastructure Strategy.
Notes to editors
The Scottish National Investment Bank is Scotland’s first development investment bank, wholly owned by the Scottish Ministers on behalf of the people of Scotland. The Bank is an impact investor, focussed on delivering both commercial returns and mission impacts with its investments. The Bank is a PLC and operationally independent from government.
The Bank invests in business and projects connected to Scotland to deliver long term, patient debt or equity investment where the private market is failing to provide the support businesses and projects require to grow.
The Bank’s missions are:
- Supporting Scotland’s transition to net zero
- Building communities and promoting equality
- Harnessing innovation to enable our people to flourish
The Scottish Government has committed to capitalising the Bank with £2bn in its first 10 years. Over time as the Bank’s initial investments are repaid, the Bank will reinvest those funds in businesses and projects creating a perpetual investment fund to support the Scottish economy in the long term.
The Bank was established in November 2020 and is led by Chief Executive, Eilidh Mactaggart.
Details of the Bank’s investments can be found at https://www.thebank.scot/portfolio/
Lothian Brodband Group’s network currently comprises both fibre and fixed wireless and passes approximately 10,000 premises. This announcement signals a commitment to be passing 80,000 premises within the next four years.
The company is led by experienced industry executive, Gavin Rodgers. Gavin was formerly head of a national fibre delivery organisation at Virgin Media and has a track record of deploying fibre at scale.
LBG deploys XGS-PON technology to deliver fibre-to-the-premise (FTTP) with symmetrical upload and download connection speeds of up to 10 Gigabits per second (Gbps). This compares with BT/Openreach’s fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) product which delivers speeds of typically less than 40Mbps download and 20Mbps upload [source: Think Broadband].