Brendan O’Hara MP: “Setting the record straight on broadband”
The issue of high-speed broadband has become a really contentious issue at Westminster in the last few weeks.
The new Conservative MPs from Scotland, egged on by Digital Minister Matt Hancock believe they have found a stick to beat the Scottish Government with and have, with relish set about spreading a great deal of misinformation about broadband delivery in Scotland.
I thought it time to set the record straight because sadly for them, all their froth and bluster is based on a falsehood and simply doesn’t stand up when presented with the facts.
The scale of the broadband rollout project in Scotland, has dwarfed any other project in the UK with 800,000 premises reached so far. In fact, despite the immense logistics, Scotland has made the fastest progress of any of the UK nations in extending superfast access
The latest figures from Ofcom show that in many urban areas, there is very nearly 100% coverage and the 95% target the Scottish Government set itself is on track to be met by the end of this year.
Of course much of that remaining 5% will be in more remote areas Argyll and the Highlands and I and delighted that the Scottish Government’s R100 project will connect every home and business in the country with a universal service obligation of 30 megabits per second.
Of course there are problems and of course people get frustrated. Broadband delivery in Scotland always faced immense hurdles, we have less population and our difficult geography causes immense logistical challenges.
And that is why the Scottish Government intervened.
Without the Scottish Government investment, Argyll and Bute would still be lagging badly behind when it comes to superfast broadband.
Had the Scottish Government not stepped in to fix the UK government’s mess, only 28.1% of premises had access to superfast broadband – that figure is now three times that with a commitment to connecting the remaining hard to reach premises by 2021.
Digital communication was and remains a ‘reserved’ issue, one for which responsibility lies at Westminster, yet it has required direct intervention of the Scottish Government to ensure that our communities get the high-speed broadband they need.
Remember, it was the UK Government who had the power to invest directly in high-speed infrastructure across the UK. They chose not to. Thankfully the Scottish Government was there to clean up their mess.