SHETLAND suffers from the second slowest broadband speeds in the UK, according to a new study by consumer magazine Which? revealing the isles has an average speed of 8.4Mbps – with only Orkney (6.3Mbps) performing worse.
Shetland MSP Tavish Scott said confirmation of the “pitiful” speed was no surprise for islanders.
Scottish cabinet secretary for connectivity Fergus Ewing said in response that the government is “on track” to deliver fibre broadband access to at least 95 per cent of Scotland by the end of the year.
However, most recent figures show that only 65 per cent of properties in Shetland can access fibre broadband, with 57 per cent able to enjoy superfast speeds.
Which?’s study collected data from across the UK between January and March this year.
Shetland’s average figure doesn’t fully represent download speeds in the more rural areas, with some users in areas such as the North Isles and Northmavine receiving rates of just 0.2Mbps.
The research showed that the Scottish Highlands was the third slowest area in the UK, while Ryedale and Purbeck in England were next on the list.
The five areas with the highest average download speed were Tamworth (30.4 Mbps), Reading, Adur, Enfield and Dundee.
The Scottish Government has a commitment to deliver superfast broadband to all premises in Scotland by 2021, but it remains unclear how exactly this will be carried out.
It was confirmed at the last Northern Isles Digital Forum meeting in April that 35 per cent of local premises were not receiving 10Mbps – a speed which telecoms regulator Ofcom said was “obviously unacceptable”.
Scott said he will bring up the issue of broadband coverage at the Scottish Parliament this week.
“Across Shetland, people rely on the internet to study, work and keep in touch with friends and family. They deserve more than the pitiful speeds many are forced to put up with,” he said.
“The Scottish Government is largely responsible for the rollout of superfast broadband and I will be asking ministers about the next phase of the rollout in parliament later this week. It cannot be fair that Shetland is left at the back of the queue.”
Ewing reiterated that some upgraded services need to be signed up for and are not automatically enabled for customers.
“The Scottish Government is on track to deliver fibre broadband access to at least 95 per cent of premises across Scotland by the end of this year,” he said.
“Without our investment, only 66 per cent of premises would have been reached, with as little as 21 per cent coverage across the Highlands and no coverage at all in Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles.
“In partnership with industry, our DSSB [Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband] programme is delivering at pace and having a huge impact.
“Audit Scotland and Ofcom have reviewed the programme and concluded that we are on track to meet our targets, with more premises than expected able to access superfast speeds. However, local people need to sign up for the new, faster services with an internet service provider, as upgrades are not automatic.”