More work needed on broadband

The Scottish Government has reiterated its commitment to have every household in the country connected to high speed broadband by 2021.

 On Thursday, an Audit Scotland report into the rollout of superfast broadband in Scotland noted that while progress in the rest of the country was on target, rural parts of Scotland including the islands were again lagging behind.


In six of the 32 local authority areas in Scotland, the contractual target in the £412 million investment for 75 per cent coverage by March 2016 was not achieved.

The rate for Shetland was just 50 per cent, although this has now been improved to 69 per cent, according to Highlands and Islands Enterprise.

Rural economy secretary Fergus Ewing welcomed that 86 per cent of premises were now connected but acknowledged that much more needed to be done.

“Broadband and mobile coverage are of vital importance to many aspects of rural life and the rural economy and we are working hard to continue to improve both.


“That is why we have made the commitment that 100 per cent of properties across Scotland will be able to access superfast broadband by 2021 and I will outline next steps later this year,” he said.

Highlands and Islands Labour MSP Rhoda Grant added: “Of course concentrating on the easier to reach areas will show the projects are delivering well.

“The challenge for the government now, and always has been, is how it is going to deliver to Scotland’s harder to reach areas.”

The Audit Scotland report also said that the proportion of premises unable to receive average speeds of 10 MB/s was highest in the three island council areas of Shetland, Orkney and the Western Isles.

This surely will be one of the topics discussed at Saturday’s digital forum hosted by Alistair Carmichael MP and Tavish Scott MSP in the Skeld hall between 10am and midday.

BT, HIE and mobile phone company o2 have all confirmed their participation.