Orkney left lagging over broadband coverage, says McArthur

3 Aug 2022

Orkney's MSP, Liam McArthur, has reiterated his concern over island communities being left behind as new data reveals Orkney continues to suffer the worst internet connections in the UK.

Analysis of new Ofcom data reveals that Orkney has the lowest access to superfast broadband and the slowest download speeds in the country. Only 64.3% of Orkney residents are connected to superfast broadband with a mere 1% connected to ultrafast speeds, falling behind UK averages of 94% connected to superfast and 59% ultrafast broadband. Meanwhile download speeds in Orkney are at an average of just 34.8 megabits per second, while the UK standard is 58.2 megabits per second.

Mr McArthur has said the new data will be a "wholly unnecessary reminder" to islanders about the state of digital connections locally. It will also add to frustration felt at the prolonged delays to the Scottish Government’s R100 programme, which had been due to be completed by 2021. Orkney’s MSP is due to meet with the Minister for Business, Trade, Tourism and Enterprise later this month for further discussions on the roll out of this programme in the islands.

Responding to the new data, Mr McArthur said:

"Ofcom's report provides a wholly unnecessary reminder to islanders that Orkney continues to experience the poorest access to high-speed broadband in the country. This latest data simply confirms the day-to-day reality for too many households and businesses in Orkney who struggle daily with sluggish speeds or no connection at all.

"While it is encouraging to see subsea cables finally being laid around Orkney over recent weeks, the promise to deliver superfast broadband to 100% of properties by 2021 was first made by SNP Ministers as far back as 2016. Given those delays, we need to see the rollout take place now with increased urgency and extending out to all parts of the county.

"That is the message I will be passing on to the Minister, Ivan McKee, when I meet him later this month alongside OIC and HIE. This is an opportunity finally to plug the gaps in coverage that have existed for far too long. It is an opportunity that must not be squandered."

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