Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

North of Scotland still in ‘stone age’ of broadband connectivity after superfast delays

Post Thumbnail

The north continues to have to put up with “stone age” broadband, MP Jamie Stone said after Audit Scotland reported on delays to “superfast” connectivity.

Mr Stone, Liberal Democrat MP for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross, was responding to the public service auditor’s latest update on the progress of the Scottish Government’s Reaching 100% (R100) superfast broadband programme.

R100 was launched in May 2016, with the aim of making sure every home and business in Scotland could access superfast broadband by the end of 2021.

But delays in finalising the R100 “intervention area”, where public funds are targeted, and a legal challenge to one of the contracts mean work in some areas will not be completed until 2027.

Audit Scotland said around 107,000 premises still remain to be connected, with a large part due to a delayed contract covering the north of Scotland worth £408 million.

Scotland’s independent auditor said: “Many of these are in the hardest to reach locations, with the majority in the north.

“Connecting these remaining premises, will be challenging and expensive.”

The initial target was to be delivered through commercial coverage, three R100 contracts across the south, central and north of the country, and the Scottish Broadband Voucher Scheme (SBVS).

Audit Scotland said average speeds throughout the country had “increased significantly” since 2018 through commercial and public sector investment.

It found that 145 premises via the north contract have been connected, representing about 0.2% of the target.

The Central and South Scotland contracts had only connected 2,171 (7%) and 2,991 (14%) by the end of 2021, reaching 32,216 and 20,740 premises respectively.

Mr Stone said: “My constituents are fed up with being lumbered with stone age broadband connections.

“A reliable internet connection is an essential part of modern life. It has a major part to play in everything from education to starting a business.

“Both of our governments need to stop treating the far north as an afterthought.”

The Scottish Government has previously highlighted that SBVS, which aims to reach more of the country with high-speed connectivity, is demand-led.

Take up does, therefore, depend on property owners choosing to go down that route.

Jamie Stone MP.

David Richardson, development manager for the Highlands and Islands at the Federation of Small Businesses, said: “Good broadband is vitally important for both local businesses and workers across the country.

“Everyone from customers to the bank, council and taxman expects businesses to be online, no matter what their location.

“But for too long, the Highlands and Islands has lagged behind much of the rest of Scotland and the UK.

“And this matters, for relatively poor broadband speeds provide one more reason for young people not to stay on in remoter rural communities, and one more reason why people should not move in to set up new businesses.”

David Richardson of the Federation of Small Businesses.

Mr Richardson added: “Official figures show connectivity in rural Scotland is improving.

“But this report from Audit Scotland underlines there’s much work to do to deliver speeds fit for the 21st Century to every home and business.

“Communities and businesses expect government at every level to work with the telecoms industry to close the gap between the north of Scotland and elsewhere.”

Already a subscriber? Sign in