Scottish 4G Infill Programme Consultation: Request for Information

Closed 8 Oct 2018

Opened 10 Sep 2018

Overview

The Scottish Government (SG) and Scottish Futures Trust (SFT) have worked partnership to develop the Scottish 4G Infill Programme (S4GI). The S4GI programme’s aim is to deliver 4G LTE infrastructure and services to around 50-60 complete “notspots” in Scotland, and is backed with up to £25 million, which includes matched funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) to support activity in the Highlands and Islands region of Scotland. The programme has undergone a procurement process and in July 2018 appointed WHP Telecoms Ltd as the infrastructure provider.

In 2017, the programme consulted on a set of proposed target locations which ultimately elicited 16 sites which now comprise the programme’s initial locations. This new consultation seeks to identify further locations which can facilitate the deployment of 4G LTE infill coverage where this does not yet exist, and where it is unlikely that industry will invest in the near to medium term future, given the economic challenges of doing so.

 

Why We Are Consulting

This public consultation seeks to expand the intervention area of the S4GI programme from the initial 16 sites. To enable this, 100 potential areas of interest have been identified. SG and SFT wish to test these potential locations and their applicability for the programme to enable the £25 million available funding to be maximised, whilst adhering to geographic spend restrictions associated with the ERDF-funded and match-funded elements of the funding.

This consultation also serves to ensure compliance with the European Commission’s Broadband Guidelines. These are EU Guidelines1 which set out how governments should apply the European Commission’s State Aid rules in relation to the deployment of broadband networks. For these purposes, 4G LTE is classified as an next generation access (NGA) broadband service. The objective of the S4GI programme is to provide access to mobile NGA infrastructure which is capable of delivering 4G LTE services.

EU regulations are designed to ensure that any use of public funding (‘State Aid’) is targeted at areas of market failure and produces positive market outcomes while minimising any distortion to competition. The State Aid rules require public interventions to be targeted so as to limit the risk of crowding-out or disincentivising existing and/or concrete planned private sector investments that would otherwise meet the desired policy objectives. In the context of broadband, the General Block Exemption Regulations permit the use of public funding only to extend broadband coverage in geographic areas where there is no provision of basic broadband or NGA broadband service or network and it is unlikely to be developed in the near future (within the next three years).

Audiences

  • People of Scotland

Interests

  • Business, Industry and Innovation
  • Communities and Third Sector
  • Digital