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Another 39,000 homes and businesses across Scotland are to gain access to fibre broadband as BT continues to roll out next-generation services north of the border.

Domestic and commercial premises in 13 local authority areas will have the option of signing up for super-fast broadband deals for the first time, through the next phase of the £410 million Digital Scotland scheme.

They will gain access to up to 80Mb broadband speeds by summer 2014, as BT upgrades networks in areas such as Aberdeenshire, Dumfries and Galloway, Perth and Kinross, and Argyll.

Bridge of Allan, Castle Douglas, Findhorn, Fochabers, Kintore, Melrose, Scone and Taynuilt are among the communities set to benefit from improved connectivity this year.

Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland's Deputy First Minister, said the announcement marks "an important milestone" for the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband partnership.

"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," she stated.

“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."

She said the Scottish Government is aiming to deliver world-class connectivity by 2020, enabling people across the country to connect any time, any place, anywhere using any device.

The latest fibre broadband rollout work is in addition to BT's ongoing £2.5 billion commercial rollout, which is set to deliver super-fast broadband to 1.4 million Scottish homes and businesses by mid-2014.

To date, approximately 900,000 premises are within reach of BT's fibre broadband network.

Brendan Dick, Director of BT Scotland, said the broadband provider is aiming to "transform the communications landscape of rural Scotland and help develop prosperous local economies".

“Our engineers have been working hard behind the scenes with colleagues in local and national government to get us to this point," he stated.

"Planning a project on this scale, to get the very best value for money and maximum coverage, is a phenomenal task."

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey has also welcomed the news that more Scottish homes and businesses are to gain access to fibre broadband services.

He said the £100.8 million that the UK government has provided to Digital Scotland will help take super-fast broadband to some of the most remote locations in the country.

Without this funding, these villages and hamlets "would be left in the digital slow lane", Mr Vaizey claimed.

"The UK already does more business online than any other European country and widespread access to super-fast speeds will provide a welcome boost to the Scottish economy," he stated.

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