Liberal Democrat MSP Mike Rumbles is calling on businesses in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire to apply for a new UK Government broadband grant scheme to put pressure on the Scottish Government to improve telecommunications infrastructure in the region.
The Local Full Fibre Network programme specifically targets businesses in rural areas of the UK where improving the superfast network would bring a significant boost to the local economy. Mr Rumbles, however, has raised concerns that the Scottish Government is not doing its bit to ensure broadband across the region is fit for the 21st century.
The Scottish Government have promised to deliver 100% superfast broadband (30mbps) by 2021. However, its investment in the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband project (15%) is far outweighed by money from Broadband Development UK, the EU and BT.
Mr Rumbles said: “Demand in the region is high, both from businesses and in the wider community. I regularly speak to people in Aberdeenshire whose homes have abysmal internet speeds of 1mbps or less and, unfortunately, improvement for many communities has been glacial.
“I welcome this grant scheme, which could transform internet access for many businesses in the North East. But the fact remains that the wider issues with broadband in the North East will not be improved until this inept Scottish Government takes some action to modernise our local telecommunications infrastructure.
“The SNP have been promising to finance superfast broadband since they came to power in 2007, but the total investment from the Scottish Government has been minor compared to the investment made by our local authorities, BDUK and other organisations.
“I have written to the Minister a number of times to express my concerns about the lack of progress and, despite plenty of warm words, I have yet to receive a detailed timetable of plans to roll out superfast broad across the North East”
Notes for editors:
- Grants of up to £3000 to get gigabit broadband installed as part of a £2 million trial taking place in four areas around the UK. Suppliers will be offering vouchers worth between £500 and £3000 each to local businesses which can then be used to pay for the installation of gigabit speed connections. The aim of the pilots is to encourage the market to extend full fibre infrastructure in the UK by increasing demand and reducing the cost to customers.
Four areas across the UK have been carefully selected to test the market conditions and infrastructure conditions we aim to help to create through the wider Local Full Fibre Network programme. The areas are:
- Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire
- Bristol, with Bath and North East Somerset
- Coventry and Warwickshire
- West Yorkshire Combined Authorities (Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees, Leeds, Wakefield and York)