SHETLAND Islands Council political leader Gary Robinson has welcomed the UK government’s latest move to ensure that every household and business in the country will have access to fast broadband by 2020.
On Saturday, Prime Minister David Cameron pledged that everyone in the UK would have the legal right to request a broadband connection with a speed of 10Mbps.
The government is expected to give further details of a new universal service obligation on Monday that will give access to broadband the same legal footing as other basic services such as water and electricity.
The announcement goes well beyond a current rollout of superfast broadband services (with speeds of 24Mbps or better) across the Highlands and Islands, which will only reach 76 per cent of premises in Shetland.
Robinson said the commitment should give all homes and business in the isles access to broadband speeds capable of streaming video and allowing businesses to operate in remote locations.
“At 10Mbps it falls some way short of what can properly be defined as high speed broadband but it should be fast enough to allow our remotest island homes to stream live video and for isolated businesses to function as they’ve never been able to in the past.”
He said the government’s commitment vindicated the work of the Our Islands, Our Future campaign.
“A universal service obligation was something that we lobbied the government for, so we’re delighted to have won this commitment,” he said.
“While it’s very welcome, our work will continue in order to ensure that everyone can access true Super-fast Broadband of at least 30Mbps as defined by Ofcom and the European Commission.”
Cameron said: “Access to the internet shouldn’t be a luxury; it should be a right – absolutely fundamental to life in 21st century Britain.
“That is why I’m announcing a giant leap in my digital mission for Britain. Just as our forebears effectively brought gas, electricity and water to all, we’re going to bring fast broadband to every home and business that wants it.
“That’s right: we’re getting Britain – all of Britain – online, and on the way to becoming the most prosperous economy in the whole of Europe.”
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