North East MSP and digital connectivity spokesperson for the Scottish Liberal Democrats, Mike Rumbles, has called on the Scottish Government to keep to promises made by the SNP in 2011 and 2016 and deliver superfast broadband to every home in Scotland before the next Scottish Parliament election in May 2021.
In 2016, ahead of election for the Scottish Parliament the SNP pledged to deliver ‘100 per cent superfast broadband coverage for Scotland by the end of the next Parliament’.
As early as 2011 the SNP government promised in its Digital Ambition for Scotland report that ‘next generation broadband will be available to all by 2020’.
After being more than 6 years into a programme to deliver fibre and superfast broadband to every home in the country, the Scottish Government’s contribution amounts to less than 15% of the total investment so far. With the vast majority of funding being provided through Broadband Development UK, local authorities and commercial operators.
Speaking after a debate on digital inclusion in Scotland, held in the Scottish Parliament this afternoon, Mr Rumbles said:
“Fast and reliable access to the internet is no longer a luxury.
“Good connectivity is now an essential service that allows our communities, individuals and businesses to thrive. But many people, especially in rural areas, are still reporting appalling speeds of 2Mbps or less.
“With less than three years remaining, of the Scottish Government’s commitment to superfast broadband, work in the most challenging of areas has yet to begin. Progress has been glacial and already we have seen Ministers try to push back the completion date to the end of 2021.
“That is why I have asked the Minister to return to the commitment they made in their manifesto and deliver the R100 programme by May 2021.”
Notes for editors:
- SNP 2016 election manifesto. See page 9: here
- Scotland’s Digital Future A Strategy for Scotland report. See page 5: here
- SPICe Digital Connectivity report. See page 8: here