North East MSP Mike Rumbles has challenged the Scottish Government to live up to its promise and provide the funding needed to deliver 100% coverage of superfast broadband by 2021.
The Scottish Government today renewed its commitment to deliver the ambitious target but figures show that funding levels fall far below the required amount to achieve it.
The Digital Strategy for Scotland 2017 report, published today, highlights that investment from Broadband Development UK, the EU, local councils and the Scottish Government has reached £280 million so far. It is estimated, however, that at least £4 billion will be need to be found over the next four years to deliver on their pledge.
The Scottish Liberal Democrats are also calling for transformative investment in digital education and skills to help spread the benefits of new technologies and bring a welcome boost to the Scottish economy.
Mr Rumbles said: “The gall of the Scottish Government is astounding. Their ‘renewed’ promise is worth less than the cost of producing this report, if it is not backed by funding.
“There is nowhere near the levels of investment required to deliver their target in four years. That means that many homes and businesses, especially in the rural areas of Scotland, could be left high and dry. Many may be forced to wait decades for a good internet connection.
“We want to see the Scottish Government deliver on this promise and make Scotland a digital success story but that can only be done if everyone is given the chance of skills and access, and the resources are made available.
“The single biggest barrier to growth is often quoted as the lack of skills in new digital technology. The Scottish Government has a unique opportunity, over a very short timeframe, to make Scotland a world leader in telecommunications industries but pleasing words and big promises won’t get the job done.”
Notes for editors:
- BT have estimated that it will cost £35billion to deliver 100% coverage to the UK, with Scotland expected to require more than it’s per head of population share (estimated as £4-5billion).
- Digital Strategy for Scotland 2017 document: https://beta.gov.scot/publications/realising-scotlands-full-potential-digital-world-digital-strategy-scotland/documents/00515583.pdf?inline=true
- Data/evidence on current levels of connectivity: https://beta.gov.scot/publications/scotlands-digital-strategy-evidence-discussion-paper/documents/00515576.pdf?inline=true
- The Scottish Government’s 15% contribution to Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband project is far outweighed by investment from Broadband Development UK, the EU and BT. With an added £40million coming from local authorities.
- The Scottish Parliament Library SPICe report can on Digital Scotland be found here (see page 8 on funding): http://www.parliament.scot/ResearchBriefingsAndFactsheets/S5/SB_16-57_Digital_Connectivity.pdf