SHETLAND MSP Tavish Scott is calling for changes to the way funding for high speed broadband is allocated to ensure improvements are directed towards islanders facing the poorest connections.
Following a meeting with Community Broadband Scotland, Scott said any future money ought to be directed towards providing for the hardest to reach customers “rather than chasing a flat population percentage target”.
Earlier this month BT Scotland director Brendan Dick visited the islands to reveal that Lerwick was in line to receive high speed broadband – connections up to 80mbps – by September.
Customers in most other Shetland communities can expect to be hooked up to superfast broadband in 2015 and 2016. BT says it is confident of exceeding its initial target of hooking up 76 per cent of isles households.
However at a digital forum meeting in Lerwick two weeks ago, Dick heard criticism from those in the outlying isles and remoter parts of the mainland who fear being left behind.
Scott described the divide between those with good broadband access and those without , particularly in remote communities, was “simply unacceptable”.
“People in Shetland are now increasingly more reliant on high speed broadband for doing business, accessing services and communicating with family and friends across the country and the world,” he said.
“Whilst news of further funding for high speed broadband in Shetland is certainly welcome, it simply does not seem right that those who currently have a poor service, or no service at all, should be left further behind.”
He called for priority to be given to ensuring remote areas are able to access a “decent and reliable” service and that “any further investment… be directed towards helping the hardest to reach customers rather than the broad percentage target which just won’t do the job in many isolated areas across the Northern Isles”.
Become a supporter of Shetland News
Shetland News is asking its many readers to consider start paying for their dose of the latest local news delivered straight to their PC, tablet or mobile phone.
Journalism comes at a price and because that price is not being paid in today’s rapidly changing media world, most publishers - national and local - struggle financially despite very healthy audience figures.
Most online publishers have started charging for access to their websites, others have chosen a different route. Shetland News currently has over 440 supporters who are all making small voluntary financial contributions. All funds go towards covering our cost and improving the service further.
Your contribution will ensure Shetland News can: -
- Bring you the headlines as they happen;
- Stay editorially independent;
- Give a voice to the community;
- Grow site traffic further;
- Research and publish more in-depth news, including more Shetland Lives features.
If you appreciate what we do and feel strongly about impartial local journalism, then please become a supporter of Shetland News by either making a single payment or monthly subscription.
Support us from as little as £3 per month – it only takes a minute to sign up. Thank you.Support Shetland News