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STEP FORWARD FOR BROADBAND IN RURAL AREAS

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Broadband connections for local government and health services in rural areas has taken an important step forward, ...
Broadband connections for local government and health services in rural areas has taken an important step forward, with notices being placed to inform potential suppliers of proposed procurements for services in the South of Scotland and the Highlands and Islands.

This precedes the formal procurement process - potential suppliers will be able to seek meetings with the executive before that process begins.

Broadband has a vital role in the improved delivery of public services. It offers reliable high-speed access to the Internet and telecom services.

Deputy minister for finance and public services Peter Peacock said:

'This is the first step on the way to achieving broadband connections for local government and health services in rural Scotland. These will play an important part in supporting the delivery of modern public services.

'Broadband will give pupils access to the highest quality on line learning. It will allow GPs and hospitals to send X-ray records and take part in video conferences. It will allow different parts of the public sector to work more effectively together.

'Working with public sector partners we expect to start procurements within two months. We believe this will contribute to helping the wider availability of broadband to the private sector in these areas.'

The Scottish executive is placing Prior Information Notices in the Official Journal of the European Communities. These do not form part of the formal procurement process but precede it.

Proposed procurements will combine the requirements of local government and health services. The Highlands and Islands procurement will involve up to six local authorities as well as health boards and trusts. Preparation has involved complex work: setting up structures through which the executive and partners will work together; and identifying requirements.

It is open to potential suppliers to seek meetings with the Scottish executive before the formal procurement process begins.

The executive set out its proposals for improving broadband access in 'Connecting Scotland: Our Broadband Future', published in September 2001. Aggregated procurement was a key strand of the strategy. The executive is working closely with interested parties in each area, including local government, health, higher and further education and the enterprise bodies.

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