Orkney’s MSP, Liam McArthur today met BT representatives to highlight specific concerns about broadband provision in Papay and North Ronaldsay.
Mr McArthur outlined the problems in Papa Westray where repeated breakdowns have left residents without a broadband service for over 40 days since the turn of the year. While North Ronaldsay has not experienced the same level of disruption, like Papay local residents still struggle to receive broadband speeds of 0.5Mbps in the main.
During the discussion with BT, Mr McArthur made the case for establishing radio links in both islands, which could see broadband speeds increased to 8Mbps. While this falls short of the 24Mbps being promised by BT as part of the their upgrade of island exchanges, radio links have the potential to deliver improvements more quickly.
BT have agreed to look into the proposal and provide a response.
Commenting after the meeting, Mr McArthur said:
“Despite recent investment in broadband services, for too many people in too many parts of Orkney the reality is one of slow speeds and intermittent service, if indeed they get a service at all.
“In Papa Westray, residents have faced particular problems with repeated breakdowns in connections that have left islanders without a service, often for days on end. While BT have talked for some time about plans to upgrade local exchanges in the isles, we still have no firm date for when this work will be completed. This leaves local people and businesses in a difficult position in terms of planning ahead.
“It has been suggested to me that radio links could be established quite easily and cost-effectively for both Papay and North Ronaldsay. While this may not achieve the same speeds as some other options, it may at least offer the benefit of a solution in the nearer future.
“I welcome the fact that BT has agreed to investigate the practicalities of installing radio links and hope that this can play a part in helping deliver the improved broadband services that communities across Orkney desperately need to see”.