Charter focuses on opportunities, overcoming barriers and delivering digital infrastructure across Scotland

July 20, 2022 by No Comments | Category Digital Scotland, Scotland's Full Fibre Charter

Blog by Christine Hamilton-Rice, Scottish Government’s Digital Connectivity Policy – Scotland’s Full Fibre Charter Lead.

The Scottish Government’s ambition is for Scotland to become a truly digital nation, one that is underpinned by high quality connectivity that supports people and growth. Our digital infrastructure is critical national infrastructure and it is central to economic and social resilience and underpins delivery of many aspects within the National Strategy for Economic Transformation (NSET).

My role is to support policies that enable broadband connectivity across Scotland. Today, I want to focus on one of our key mechanisms underpinning our work on connectivity – Scotland’s Full Fibre Charter.

Scotland’s Full Fibre Charter provides a framework for Scottish Government and key communications providers to work together to maximise full fibre coverage throughout Scotland.

For me, this is genuinely exciting. The Charter is one of the ways in which we are creating an environment that sees Scotland regarded as a place that encourages and promotes commercial investment – a great place to invest in future-proofed digital infrastructure. More than that, it is providing a channel for meaningful dialogue and genuine collaboration between government and industry, and what I hope will usefully support even greater collaboration between industry players themselves.

In May, we undertook a significant step in achieving this when the Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Economy, Ms Forbes, hosted the first meeting of the Full Fibre Charter Forum. This brought signatories together from industry, enabling that dialogue.

Underpinning this activity, and forming the basis of discussion, is the Charter itself which consists of a series of pledges designed to extend fibre build further into remote, rural and geographically challenging areas and encourage operators to support fair working practices, skills development and career progression. Fair Work practices include providing secure pay and contracts, promoting diversity and inclusion, and providing channels for effective worker voice.

The Forum enabled the Cabinet Secretary to hear industry’s views on the connectivity environment in Scotland and what can be done to make it more attractive. It also allowed her to recognise and celebrate the significant contribution commercial operators are making towards achieving our digital ambitions in Scotland as well as impressive initiatives that support the workforce that underpin and drive this deployment through fair working practices.

I am also keen to leverage the Charter to foster connections and enhance relationships and engagement with other bodies to support the environment in Scotland. As a result the Scottish Roadworks Commissioner, Kevin Hamilton, and Ofcom Board Member for Scotland, Bob Downes, also attended in a listening capacity to hear industry and inform their work, though they are not party to the Charter or the relationship between Government and operators.

Signatories have joined the Charter in two phases with Axione, CityFibre and Openreach joining at the launch in December 2020, and Borderlink, Cloudnet, Hyperoptic, Lothian Broadband Networks Ltd and Virgin Media O2 signing earlier this year.

While we have been working with signatories on key issues affecting industry from its infancy, the Forum brought together a range of voices representing the Scottish telecoms industry as a whole – operators large and small; urban, rural, and remote – reflecting the challenges of Scotland’s geography.

The challenge for Scottish Government now is to take the industry contributions and convert them into a set of actions that the Scottish Government and signatories can work together to deliver and drive change. We will also be continuing work to widen membership, bringing new voices and dimensions to the Charter, ensuring it continues to be representative of the telecoms industry in Scotland.

We will continue to work with signatories to identify opportunities, overcome barriers and deliver digital infrastructure across Scotland.

Get in touch

If you would like to sign up to Scotland’s Full Fibre Charter, you can get in touch with us. Please contact:

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