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.

Nicola Sturgeon promises thousands of superfast broadband connections within six months

The first minister promised households across rural Scoland will have access to 4,000 new superfast broadband connections by the end of June, after being told to apologise for “failures” of a flagship SNP programme.

The Reaching 100 (R100) programme was first announced by the SNP government in 2017 and was supposed to bring faster internet to 60,000 properties across northern Scotland by the end of 2021.

We exclusively revealed no homes in the Highlands have been connected to superfast broadband through the programme, while tens of thousands of others are still waiting for a vital connection.

So far only 109 properties have been connected, leaving 59,276 homes and businesses waiting to be hooked up to superfast broadband.

Meanwhile, the programme – which covers the Highlands, Moray, Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire, the islands and Perthshire, – has been pushed back by six years to 2027.

Speaking at First Minister’s Questions on Thursday, Ms Sturgeon said 4,000 new connections will be made within the first six months of the year.

Thousands of connections to be made

Speaking in Holyrood, the first minister said: “Broadband investment is reserved to Westminster, but given its failure to deliver on that, and its failure to deliver on so many other things, we have had to step in and make a difference.

“The R100 North contract was signed in December 2020.

“Despite the pandemic, a huge amount of preparatory work has been done since, including a remodelling exercise to make sure every connection is full-fibre, survey work for over 5,000 properties, and 16 subsea cables which will deliver vital connectivity to 15 of Scotland’s islands.”

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon

She added: “We anticipate by the end of June it will have delivered 4,000 connections.”

The R100 programme also includes a voucher scheme to help people hook up to superfast broadband in northern Scotland.

Those not covered by the R100 scheme can apply for a one-off voucher of £5,000 to help them set up a permanent superfast connection themselves, and homes and businesses with internet speeds of less than 30 megabits per second can apply for a £400 voucher to set up a temporary connection while the R100 programme is rolled out.

Ms Sturgeon added in her statement that 750 applications for one of these vouchers have already been handed out.

First Minister must ‘apologise’

Scottish Conservatives demanded the first minister apologises to remote and rural communities across Scotland for the lack of progress made in the R100 programme.

Tory MSP Finlay Carson, convener of Holyrood’s rural affairs, islands and natural environment committee, said people are getting fed up with the SNP blaming Westminster for poor broadband.

Finlay Carson, MSP for Galloway and West Dumfries

He said: “The practical rollout of broadband is devolved to the Scottish Government and that line is wearing thin, just like the patience of people in rural Scotland.

“The SNP talked up this scheme as reaching 100%, but rural communities are not getting what they expected.

“Nearly 37,000 properties in ‘lot one’ will not get fibre from the main scheme, and the voucher scheme is delivering nothing, there has only been 4% of uptake so far.”

Conservatives accused of ‘griping’

Ms Sturgeon accused the Scottish Conservatives of griping.

She replied: “We are ensuring every premise in Scotland can access superfast broadband connections despite telecoms being reserved, and that is not a matter of opinion, that is a matter of fact.

“The UK Government’s contribution to the R100 project is £31.5 million, which is 5% of the total, compared to £579m invested by the Scottish Government.

“Again the Scottish Government is getting on with the job of delivering connections while all the Scottish Conservatives can do is gripe and gurn about it.”

EXCLUSIVE: Tens of thousands of homes still waiting for superfast broadband through SNP flagship scheme

Already a subscriber? Sign in



More from the Press and Journal Scottish politics team

More from the Press and Journal