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Highlands and Islands Enterprise appoint director on broadband

Stuart Robertson is to take on a new role as director of digital for Highlands and Islands.

Stuart Robertson (HIE)

Highlands and Islands Enterprise is stepping up its efforts to ensure that businesses and communities across the region are able to harness the benefits of digital communications, including next generation broadband.

Stuart Robertson, currently the development agency's head of Digital and Broadband, as well as its area manager for Shetland, is to take on a new, dedicated role as director of digital Highlands and Islands.

The appointment signals HIE's commitment both to rolling out the telecoms infrastructure to deliver next generation broadband to every part of the region, and promoting the important role digital technology will play in the coming years to grow businesses and strengthen communities.

Chief Executive Alex Paterson said the post had been created to provide greater focus and leadership to unlock the region's potential in the global digital economy.

He said: "The economic future of the Highlands and Islands is digital. Technology is an enabler, touching every sector of society, from private businesses to public service providers, and underpinning our ability to compete with other regions and countries around the world.

"As well as establishing the infrastructure, HIE is working to help businesses gain the understanding and skills they need to harness the power of new digital technology to drive economic growth.

"It's a fact of life that the telecoms companies won't invest in sparsely populated areas where they'll be unable to make a profit, so public support is essential to ensure that rural and island communities don't get left behind.

"Rollout has already started to happen in some communities and we want to help accelerate that process and spread it out to reach every community."

The Scottish Government announced in June this year that £120m had been allocated for infrastructure funding. A further £5m was allocated in August to establish Community Broadband Scotland, to be administered by HIE and support projects across the country from 2013.

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