Orkney’s MSP Liam McArthur has today called on the Scottish Government to provide opportunities for smaller operators to help deliver the ‘Reaching 100%’ (R100) broadband programme.
Mr McArthur’s comments follow a statement in Holyrood today in which the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Connectivity, Fergus Ewing MSP confirmed that the Highlands & Islands, Aberdeen, Dundee and Angus will be one of three separate ‘regions’ when contracts are tendered in due course. Mr Ewing also confirmed that £384 million would be allocated to cover delivery of the R100 commitment across this ‘region’.
Commenting, Orkney MSP Liam McArthur said:
“The commitment to delivering high speed broadband to 100% of premises by 2021 is very welcome. So too, is the Cabinet Secretary’s recognition that rural and island areas must be prioritised within this next phase of the roll out programme.
“Unfortunately, there was little detail in Mr Ewing’s statement about how the government expects to achieve this level of coverage. I am concerned, however, that the procurement process could make delivery in parts of Orkney very difficult indeed.
“History tells us that the big players are less interested in or capable of delivering solutions in remoter areas of the country, including large parts of Orkney. That is why the procurement process must ensure that smaller players are able to compete for elements of the contract.
“If not, the risk is that the same communities will find themselves at the back of the queue again and left paying through the nose for a service that is delivered for a fraction of the cost elsewhere in Scotland.
“Good, reliable and affordable broadband is now essential for businesses and households alike. The Scottish Government’s commitment is a welcome step in the right direction but we need to see the detail of how it will be delivered”.