In a session of questions and answers in the Scottish Parliament this morning, North East MSP Mike Rumbles called on the Scottish Government to make it a priority for the R100 programme to provide superfast broadband for homes in Aberdeenshire and allow the region to catch-up with levels of access seen elsewhere in Scotland.
Only 82.4% of homes in the Aberdeenshire Council area have access to internet speeds of 30Mbps or above, the second worst coverage on the Scottish mainland.
In October this year, the minister responsible for delivering the R100 programme admitted that it would be ‘challenging’ for the Scottish Government to meet its election commitment to deliver access to superfast broadband to every home by the end of 2021.
The Scottish Liberal Democrat MSP said: “Aberdeenshire and the North East is always found at the back of the queue for Scottish Government investment. That cannot continue if the Scottish Government want to deliver the R100 programme on time.
“The target of 2021 has already slipped back once and with only 2 years left to deliver the programme the contractors are not even in place to start the work. Meanwhile dozens of rural and remote communities are being left behind in the race to improve access to online services and technology, with some households in Aberdeenshire barely able to get internet speeds of 2 Megabits-per-second.
“Less than a quarter of all public funding in Scotland for fibre broadband so far has come from the Scottish Government and progress for many communities has been glacial. The Scottish Government must now prioritise closing the connectivity gap that exists in Aberdeenshire and the North East.”
Notes for editors:
· As far back as 2011 the SNP have been promising superfast broadband for rural homes in Scotland and their election promise in 2016 clearly stated ‘Our manifesto pledged [is] to deliver superfast broadband to 100% of premises in Scotland by 2021.’ Despite virtually none of the £600 million promised for the programme having been spent on delivering 30Mbps to homes in Scotland, the target date had already been moved back to the end of 2021 and is now being pushed further into the next Parliament. See the SNP 2016 pledge here: https://www.snp.org/our-priorities-for-government/