McArthur welcomes extension of broadband rollout in Orkney

19 Aug 2022

Orkney's MSP, Liam McArthur, has welcomed an announcement that the planned rollout of superfast broadband in Orkney is due to be extended thanks to additional funding from Scottish and UK Governments.

The announcement today confirms that around a further 1,000 properties in Orkney will be connected on top of what was originally announced as part of the rollout plan at the start of the year.

It follows pressure over the past year by Orkney's MSP, in conjunction with the local Council and HIE, for the R100 programme to go further in plugging the remaining gaps in provision. Mr McArthur has repeatedly raised concerns in Parliament about the extent of the coverage to be achieved under the contract signed between the Scottish Government and BT.

Following earlier meetings with the Finance Secretary, Kate Forbes, Mr McArthur met with the Minister for Business, Trade, Tourism and Enterprise, Ivan McKee, earlier this week alongside colleagues from OIC and HIE, where it was confirmed that more funding had been agreed to allow more properties to be connected.  

Responding to the announcement, Mr McArthur said:

"A recent report confirmed that Orkney suffers from the poorest digital connections in the country. At the same time, the Scottish Government’s R100 programme has been beset by delays and is now well behind schedule.

"I have consistently called on Ministers to deliver their promise of 100% superfast broadband coverage and for the rollout to go further and faster in the islands.

"The announcement today that around 1,000 more properties in Orkney will be included in the planned rollout is therefore very welcome indeed. While there is still some way to go in achieving the promised universal coverage, this much-needed extension will make a real difference in plugging gaps which remained in the original proposals.

"Good progress has been made over the summer in laying new subsea cables. This now needs to be followed by urgent action to roll out the fibre across our islands.

"For those who still fall outwith the current plans, the fight for a fair deal continues. I will continue, therefore, to press Scottish Ministers to find ways of supporting solutions that can plug those remaining gaps so that our entire community gets access to the broadband services it needs, deserves and has been promised."

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