New rollout of superfast broadband announced
About 39,000 more homes and businesses across Scotland are to get fibre optic broadband as part of the Digital Scotland partnership, it has been announced.
Thirteen local authority areas are set to benefit from the latest planned rollout of services.
Some places will be able to access high speed technology for the first time.
Others will see an expansion of existing fibre broadband provision.
Digital Scotland is a publicly-funded initiative made up of two projects, one covering the Highlands and Islands and the other the rest of Scotland.
The first locations in the Highlands and Islands, in Inverness-shire and Moray, were announced in October 2013.
The latest announcement includes the first locations to have their networks upgraded, as well as places such as Bridge of Allan, Castle Douglas, Findhorn, Fochabers, Kintore, Melrose, Scone and Taynuilt, which will receive superfast broadband for the first time.
Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: "The scale of the challenge of delivering fibre broadband into rural Scotland is greater than any other part of the UK and indeed, much of Europe.
"It's fantastic news that many rural communities and businesses, from the Highlands to the Borders, will soon begin to see the benefits of high quality digital connectivity, making them more economically viable in the long term."
The Scottish government is involved in the Digital Scotland partnership along with local government organisation Cosla, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, and other public bodies and businesses.
'Transformation in broadband'
Cosla spokesman Stephen Hagan said the announcement was "the start of the narrowing of the digital divide between rural and urban areas across Scotland".
He added: "Local communities across Scotland, especially in rural areas, have been loud and clear that better speed broadband services were a top priority for them and for that reason all 32 Scottish Councils agreed last year to pool over £90m to deliver this project alongside European Union funding of more than £20m."
Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael said: "It is good to see progress being made by Highlands and Islands Enterprise and the Scottish Government to deliver on the UK Government's commitment to achieve a transformation in broadband across the country by 2015."
The Department for Culture, Media and Sport's Broadband Delivery UK project aims to provide superfast broadband access to "to at least 90% of premises in the UK".