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Rural superfast broadband planned
Next-generation broadband will be introduced in some of Scotland's most remote areas
Superfast broadband is to be brought to rural communities in the Highlands and Islands.
The Scottish Government says it is introducing next-generation broadband to communities and businesses in some of the furthest-flung places in the UK.
The £120 million project, overseen by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) and BT, will install underground cables and sub-sea cables to connect the islands. The communities could be online by 2020.
HIE chief executive Alex Paterson said bringing superfast internet to the area was "the largest and most challenging rural broadband project in the UK".
He said: "Businesses and communities will see benefits where they matter most, including in education, in supporting healthcare services and by opening up new markets. Our ultimate aim is for all parts of the Highlands and Islands to benefit and this news brings us a step closer to our goal."
A report by Regeneris Consulting earlier this year found investment in next-generation broadband could create thousands of jobs and bring millions of pounds into the Scottish economy in the next 15 years.
It predicts that the economy of a typical UK town could receive a £143 million boost and 225 new jobs from the introduction of superfast broadband.
Infrastructure Secretary Alex Neil said: "Everybody in the Highlands and Islands recognises the importance of access to superfast broadband, not just for the future of our local economies but indeed for the future of our children, for our education, our health and every aspect of life in the modern world.
"Whether it's a small business competing in the global market through the use of superfast broadband, or whether it's the granny and grandpa talking to their grandchildren in New Zealand, superfast broadband can change the lives of people for the better in these rural communities.
"This substantial funding injection will bring those improvements to people across the Highlands and Islands. This only the start, with investment from local government and the private sector we can we can continue to increase economic growth, create jobs and bring communities closer together."