Orkney MSP raises broadband concerns

Liam McArthur, the MSP for Orkney, has voiced concerns over the Scottish Government’s claim to deliver high-speed broadband to every business and home in Scotland by 2021, calling on officials to shed further light on their commitment.

Specifically, McArthur has called on Paul Wheelhouse, the Scottish Government’s Connectivity Minister, to reveal to the public as to whether the target of 30Mbps+ superfast broadband speeds to all individuals across the country has been “quietly abandoned” or not.

The Orkney MSP stated that in the latest R100 programme update the 2021 target date was excluded, and that the delegation of contracts only be finalised by the end of 2019.

McArthur said: “Walking back on the deadline for R100 is bad enough, but deliberately dodging legitimate questions shows a blatant disregard for those who need these upgrades the most.

“Rural and island areas have been left behind for too long when it comes to broadband services. Households and businesses in these communities desperately need to see improvements delivered as quickly as possible.

“The SNP made much of their promise of high-speed internet for every household in Scotland by 2021 during the last election. It is not good enough for the deadline to be quietly abandoned as if it doesn’t matter. Islanders have the right to demand better.”

Presently, only 94 per cent of all businesses and homes in Scotland have access to superfast broadband networks. Although the figure may appear high, it is the remaining six per cent that will be most difficult to tackle due to the distance of rural communities and terrains under which to lay cables.

However, in light of DCMS’s decision to only approve Building Digital UK contracts with a focus on FTTP networks, and the new prime minister’s bold pledge to provide full fibre connections by 2025, it is no wonder that the Scottish Government is faced with issues relating to its R100 programme targets.