Improving broadband coverage in Shetland was raised today with Ministers at Holyrood’s General Question Time. Tavish Scott MSP pressed the Scottish Government to ensure that Shetland’s outer and Northern Isles are first in the R100 investment programme.
Minister for Energy, Connectivity and the Islands, Paul Wheelhouse MSP, confirmed that the Government is taking an “outside-in approach” to target remote and rural communities first for coverage.
The Scottish Government has repeatedly promised that 100% of premises in Scotland will have access to superfast broadband of 30Mb/s or more but an Audit Scotland report in September concluded that it will be difficult for the Government to fulfil this commitment. The report also found speeds in Shetland are still among the slowest in the country with almost a fifth of properties still unable to access 10Mb/s.
Commenting after General Question Time Mr Scott said:
“Shetland’s outer and northern isles need to be first. They have been left behind so far. Fibre option cables must be laid to the house and business premises so that people can gain the advantages of superfast broadband. Audit Scotland are worried about how long this is all taking. So are islanders.
“Businesses in the isles need to know when they can expect to be connected. The Government claims it is on track to begin R100 in the second half of 2019. It must guarantee this happens and that a clear timetable for connection is set out.
“I will meet the Minister responsible to push that Shetland is first in the queue for this vital investment.”