A £5m fund aims to ensure some of the remotest communities in Scotland can benefit from high-speed broadband.
Community Broadband Scotland is intended to act as a one-stop shop for rural community groups, with advice and information on how to bring a better internet service to their area.
Communities can also apply for "seed funding" under the Government scheme to help improve internet access. The first round of this will focus on a small number of projects, which are then intended to be used as an example for other projects.
During a visit to Elvanfoot village in South Lanarkshire, infrastructure and capital investment secretary Alex Neil stressed the "importance of access to broadband to ensure that our local communities flourish".
He said: "Broadband should not be considered a luxury in rural areas. It is essential to enhance the quality of life and stimulate the growth of the local economy. "This investment of £5 million over the next three years will see targeted support being provided to community projects to enable them to deliver broadband solutions for their areas."
The Scottish Government says it wants Scotland to have a world-class broadband infrastructure by 2020.
Alex Paterson, Highlands and Islands Enterprise chief executive, said the new fund will help achieve this.
He said: "This is an important new initiative which will support communities develop innovative solutions to bring fast, reliable broadband services to some of Scotland's most rural locations.
"While there are challenges, there can be significant economic and social benefits from improving broadband. The seed fund will provide the help communities need to ensure Scotland has a world-class digital network by 2020."
Councillor Stephen Hagan, spokesman for regeneration and sustainable development at local government body Cosla said: "I welcome the launch of the seed fund and the start of a project to investigate what can be delivered in terms of improved broadband coverage for all Scottish communities, no matter how remote they are from the current broadband network."
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