Orkney’s MSP, Liam McArthur MSP has expressed concern at delays in the roll out of the Scottish Government’s broadband programme while repeating his call for investment to be prioritised at areas, such as Orkney, with the poorest coverage
The issue was raised at General Questions following a report last week from Consumer Organisation, Which? that confirmed that Orkney has the slowest average speeds and poorest level of broadband coverage anywhere in the country.
In response, the Minister for Connectivity, Paul Wheelhouse MSP, confirmed that procurement of the R100 programme to deliver the government’s commitment of high speed broadband to 100% of premises across Scotland by 2021 would be concluded “this year”. This suggests that earlier promises of procurement being completed in the first half of 2019 have now been abandoned, putting at risk the chances of completing the work itself by 2021.
Speaking after the exchange, Mr McArthur said:
“For too many people in too many parts of Orkney the reality in terms of broadband is still too often one of slow speeds and intermittent service, if indeed they get a service at all.
“So the Scottish Government’s commitment to deliver high speed broadband to 100% of households and businesses across Scotland by 2021 is entirely welcome. However, I share the growing concerns that this programme is already behind schedule and unlikely now to be delivered by 2021, as promised.
“It is all the more important therefore that once the contract is procured later this year investment is prioritised at areas where the need is greatest. As Which? confirmed again last week, Orkney continues to have the slowest average broadband speeds and poorest level of coverage anywhere in the country. On the upside, this should now put Orkney at the very front of the queue when it comes to the next phase of broadband roll out.”
Notes to Editors: You can view the question and its answer here.