Hundreds of thousands of households and businesses across Scotland should reap the rewards of high-speed fibre broadband thanks to a £264 million investment.

The project will be delivered by BT, which is investing £106.7 million in a partnership led by the Scottish government. It is working together with local authorities and Broadband Delivery UK (controlled by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport in London) to come up with the rest of the cash.

The latest Scottish fibre broadband roll-out follows the £146 million partnership announced earlier this year to bring faster broadband to the Highlands and Islands.

The new project will ensure that 85 percent of Scottish properties have access to fibre broadband by the end of 2015, and around 95 percent by the end of 2017, claimed the Scottish government.

Initial priority will be given to rural small and medium-sized businesses to encourage economic growth in hard-to-reach areas.

Scottish government deputy first minister Nicola Sturgeon said: "Today's announcement signals the start of one of the most ambitious infrastructure projects in the whole of Europe. It will connect communities across rural and urban areas, providing a platform for future economic development and regeneration."

BT will open up the fibre network it lays in Scotland to other wholesale suppliers who want to sell fibre broadband to their customers.The BDUK funding programme was recently criticised by the National Audit Office, which said councils and government would "struggle" to check BT's costs for laying the new faster networks.