Orkney’s MSP Liam McArthur has voiced concern over delays in the Scottish Government’s programme for delivering high speed broadband to 100% of properties across Scotland. The Minister for Energy, Connectivity and the Islands, Paul Wheelhouse, has admitted in response to a Parliamentary Question that the tendering process for delivering the so-called R100 programme will only be complete by the end of 2019, a full two years after it was first launched.
As a result of this much delayed deadline, the successful bidder will have only two years to meet the First Minister’s commitment for completion of the roll out by 2021. Given that this phase of the programme will involve some of the most hard to reach parts of the country, including many households and businesses in Orkney, Mr McArthur has again sought assurances from the Minister that more outlying areas will be prioritised.
Commenting on the news, Mr McArthur said:
“The government’s commitment to deliver high speed broadband to every property in Scotland by 2021 is welcome. However, delays in tendering the contract make achieving that goal difficult, if not impossible.
“Originally, the contract for the R100 programme was due to be tendered this time last year. It now appears that the successful bidder will not be announced for another six months. Meantime, many people in Orkney remain in the dark about how and when they will get access to high speed broadband.
“In light of today’s announcement, I have written to the Islands Minister again seeking assurances that the government is still committed to its 2021 target. I have also sought confirmation that more remote communities will be prioritised as part of the so-called ‘outwards-in’ model. They cannot be left at the back of the queue, as they have been in the past”.