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SIC - Free Tyre Check - 22 Nov 2019

Broadband speeds continue to lag

Shetland and Orkney are among the slowest local authority areas in the UK, according to new research.

SHETLAND has fared badly again in a survey of the UK’s broadband speeds – leading to local politicians reiterating calls for the government to do more to improve the situation.

New research by consumer publication Which? claimed that only Orkney and Allerdale in Cumbria are worse off than Shetland when it comes to council areas and their broadband speeds.

Shetland had an average speed of 6.7 Mbps, while Orkney was only 3Mbps.

The fastest speeds in Scotland were found in areas like Inverclyde (26.9Mbps) and West Dunbartonshire (29.6Mbps).

While the headline results are nothing new, Northern Isles MP Alistair Carmichael and Shetland MSP Tavish Scott have reiterated the need for better connectivity up north.

“These figures are yet another reminder of the poor broadband speeds islanders are having to contend with, if they can get broadband at all,” Scott said.

“The Scottish Government will not meet its commitment to 100 per cent high speed broadband coverage by 2021 without prioritising sufficient resources to our rural communities. There are serious concerns whether the timetable is possible but islanders must not be left behind.”

Carmichael added: “These figures will make difficult reading for both of Scotland’s governments as they show the digital divide between the Northern Isles and the central belt is getting wider, not narrower.

“The Scottish Government are about to launch their procurement for the next phase of broadband roll-out, and anything other than a focus on Scotland’s rural and islands communities would be a betrayal of their commitments to deliver reliable superfast broadband across the country.”

The Scottish Government’s minister for energy, connectivity and the islands Paul Wheelhouse admitted that the report “highlights what we already know – that it is more challenging to deliver and upgrade broadband infrastructure in rural areas”.

“Our Reaching 100 per cent (R100) programme is a plan to extend superfast broadband access to every home and business in the country in Scotland, and we have focussed procurement for R100 in rural areas, where it is needed most,” he continued.

“A total of 93 per cent of homes and businesses across Scotland already have access to superfast broadband, and we are investing £600 million to go further.

“R100 is the only programme of its kind in the UK and will deliver a future-proofed, national fibre network that will make rural Scotland one of the best connected places anywhere in Europe, underpinning future economic growth.”