Appointment of Preferred Supplier

A £70 million project which will provide high capacity broadband links to schools, libraries and other council buildings throughout the Highlands and Islands took a step forward today(Thursday) with the appointment of telecommunications company, Thus plc, as the preferred supplier.

The Highlands and Islands Pathfinder Broadband Procurement Project aims to deliver a very high bandwidth infrastructure to more than 800 sites across the area, with a focus on schools. It is hoped to sign a contract with Thus plc in October and that 60% of all sites will be connected next year with the roll out completed within two years.

Over the past four months, a procurement team has undertaken a detailed technical, financial and legal evaluation of bids from BT and Thus.

The team recommended that the bid from Thus represented the optimum solution, using a mix of fibre, wireless and copper-based connections, which fully met the aspirations of the partners and exceeded the minimum requirements set in the Invitation to Negotiate.

The Scottish Executive is contributing £63 million towards the costs.
The project is being led by The Highland Council, in partnership with councils in Argyll and Bute, Moray, Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles.
Arthur McCourt, Chief Executive of The Highland Council, said: “Ensuring that local public services have access to the latest broadband technology is a vital step in modernising local government. It will provide a tremendous boost to modern learning and teaching practice and to the provision of services to the public.”

The initiative complements the Broadband for Scotland’s Rural and Remote Areas initiative project, led by the Scottish Executive and Highlands and Islands Enterprise, which has brought ADSL broadband to virtually all communities across the Highlands and Islands.  Although concentrated on Council facilities, the Pathfinder project will result in further large scale upgrades to the telecommunications infrastructure across the Highlands and Islands with the potential to bring wider knock-on benefits for businesses, individuals and other organisations.

For further information please contact:  Fraser Mackenzie, Project Manager, on 01463 702857 or mobile 07717 355 843.


29 Jun 2006