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The next phase of the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband scheme is set to reach an extra 73,000 premises across Scotland, ministers have confirmed.

Areas included in the latest stage of the £410 million project include Bressay in Shetland and Dolphinton in the Scottish Borders.

The rollout of high-speed fibre will also reach a number of small communities and towns across Loch Ness for the first time, as well as the Highland fishing village of Mallaig.

Three local authority areas in Midlothian, Clackmannanshire and Falkirk will fall under the scheme for the very first time, with the first connections set to go live by the end of this year.

The announcement comes on the same day the UK government confirmed that the rollout of superfast broadband under the Broadband Delivery UK scheme has now reached three million premises.

Coverage for Digital Scotland has played a significant role in that success, pushing the 400,000 mark after being first rolled out last year.

Officials claim the project is well on its way to its target of reaching out to 750,000 properties by the end of March 2018.   

Scottish Government Deputy First Minister John Swinney said: "Every day we are continuing to build on our digital infrastructure - supporting the Scottish Government’s commitment to deliver first-rate connectivity in Scotland by 2020, ensuring we are a world class digital nation.

“By reaching out to those communities who would not have been covered by the commercial market – in towns and into some of our most rural areas – we are ensuring that the connections which are made will bring many benefits to the Scottish people both at home and in business.”

Brendan Dick, Director of BT Scotland, added: “We’re making good headway with the Digital Scotland rollout, passing 7,000 more premises a week. Coupled with our commercial upgrades it means more than 1.7 million Scottish homes and businesses can now choose to connect with much higher speeds."

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