Scotland has faced the same economic challenges as many other nations over the last two years - the impact of the pandemic, high inflation and rising energy prices have led to cost of living pressures and uncertainty for many households and businesses.
Like every business, BT Group has been hit by the same challenges, but has maintained its major investment in full fibre broadband and mobile connectivity across the country, writes Nick Speed, Head of Nations & Regions, Policy and Public Affairs, BT Group
We believe this once-in-a-generation investment in digital infrastructure will give the country the future-proofed connectivity it will need to stay ahead and grow in the decades to come.
We know that the big innovations and growth sectors of the future – like self-driving cars and 5G-enabled robotic factories – are going to depend on reliable, high speed connectivity.
BT Group, via its digital network business Openreach, has now reached almost 800,000 properties across Scotland with full fibre broadband, and our 5G mobile network now reaches nearly 70% of the UK population.
According to independent research published recently, BT Group employed more than 7,500 people across Scotland in the last financial year (2021/22) and spent around £190m with suppliers based in Scotland. The knock-on impact of the spend of BT Group employees, and payment to suppliers in the nation, results in an estimated boost of £1.5 billion to the wider economy of Scotland.
BT Group is also transforming and modernising the way it works, including developing new and refurbished offices and workspaces. We’re developing a brand new contact centre on Dundee’s waterfront which will become home to around 1,000 colleagues.
We’re also carrying out a multi-million pound refurbishment of our main Glasgow office which will also house about 1,000 colleagues. These state-of-the-art workspaces are being developed as part of our ‘Better Workplace Programme’.
New offices like this are about bringing colleagues together in brilliant spaces that will enable collaboration, help us attract and retain the best people and help us to better serve our customers.
BT Group is also playing a major role in helping to improve public services in Scotland using the latest connected technology. This year, BT secured a multi-million pound contract over the next six years to become the sole provider to deliver public sector connectivity across Scotland.
The Scottish Wide Area Network (SWAN) contract will accelerate the digital transformation of Scotland’s public sector including to some of the most rural areas across the country.
The contract will allow for better communication, data sharing and collaboration across more than 6,000 sites. Schools, hospitals, GP surgeries, pharmacies, every NHS Board and local government offices will benefit from significantly faster and improved fibre broadband and mobile connections and resilience.
Despite the challenges, BT Group is in a unique position, as the UK's lead investor in connectivity, to help drive economic growth and power the Scottish economy of the future.