Rural areas will not be pushed to the end of the queue for improvements to broadband connections, a Scottish Government minister has said.
The pledge by Infrastructure Secretary Alex Neil was made in a Holyrood debate on the roll-out of superfast broadband across the country.
Asked to reassure those in remote areas, such as the north Highlands, Mr Neil said: "I can absolutely confirm it is a key part of the Government's approach to this that rural areas and remote rural areas will not, by the fact they are remote, be left to the tail-end of this process.
"In fact, if you look at the proportionate benefits that will be gained by remote rural areas, they are proportionately greater than some of more urban and central areas because they are starting from a lower base and therefore the improvement will be even greater.
"From an economic as well as a social and cultural point of view we're extremely keen to ensure that remote rural areas are not left until the end of the queue when it comes to the roll-out of this technology."
Mr Neil said he wants Scotland to lead the world in broadband connectivity.
Earlier this week Consumer Focus Scotland said broadband speeds could be five times as fast by 2015 if the Scottish Government meets its commitments.
The Government plan, called Scotland's Digital Future, calls for a "step-change" in broadband speeds by 2015 to try to narrow the so-called digital divide and achieve "world-class" digital infrastructure by 2020.
Labour MSP Richard Baker said: "We are all aware that a great deal in is riding on the Scottish Government's commitment to getting its strategy on digital infrastructure right.
"It's about ensuring everyone in Scotland can benefit from broadband, whether it's online banking, online retail or being able to make videocalls abroad. More Scots need to take advantage of those opportunities."
Mr Baker, a North East regional MSP, called for "clarity" on the way money will be spent on infrastructure improvements.
Conservative MSP Mary Scanlon said while action had been taken to improve broadband services there was "still so much to be done".
She pointed out that the average broadband speed in Scotland is around 7 megabytes per second, which the Scottish Government is aiming to increase to between 40 and 80mbps by 2015.
Achieving this, Ms Scanlon said, would benefit many areas of life.
"There is no doubt first-class, effective broadband connections and speeds are essential not only for competitive economic growth but to advance telehealth, online learning, worldwide communications and so much more," she added.
Ms Scanlon said the Government's broadband action plan would require monitoring to ensure progress was being made. She also said Scottish ministers would need "positive and constructive working relations" with the UK Government and the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities.