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Moray man’s broadband so slow he waits to download files in Cyprus holiday home

Ian Barker wants those with the slowest broadband speeds prioritised for superfast broadband
Ian Barker wants those with the slowest broadband speeds prioritised for superfast broadband

A Moray man is petitioning Holyrood for better rural internet after claiming his connection is so slow he often waits to download large files at a holiday home in Cyprus.

Ian Barker, who lives in Scotstonhill near Elgin, struggles to stream any television and says his wife cannot watch videos as part of her open learning course.

The former teacher says the copper connections mean internet speeds are as low as 0.08mbps when the UK average is more than 60mps.

And if they aren’t able to enjoy the good connection in Cyprus, the couple rely on the library in Elgin.

“I have a holiday home in Cyprus where we have a satellite dish that costs £100 a year for 10mbps so often I wait to do a lot of my downloads there instead,” he said.

“Either that or I go to Elgin library, which is ridiculous.

“If I need to use WeTransfer I put it on last thing at night and in the morning it is still going because it takes all night – and that’s if it hasn’t crashed.”

Broadband upgrade delays

The SNP Government announced an upgrade package, known as R100, in 2017.

It aimed to bring faster internet to 60,000 properties across northern Scotland by the end of 2021.

The completion date was pushed back six years to to 2027, leaving tens of thousands of households waiting across the Highlands, islands, Moray, Aberdeenshire, Angus and Highland Perthshire.

It is digital exclusion and I feel I am forgotten about.

– Ian Barker

He said television is a struggle and neighbours with school children were unable to do some school work in lockdown.

A new broadband cabinet was built a mile away but it wasn’t linked to his house or others near him.

“It runs 800 metres away from where I live, but there is no sign of us being connected up to it,” he said.

“There are still people in Scotland who have sub-5mbps and they should be at the front of the queue for fibre broadband rather than taking people who already have a good connection and upgrading them to gigabit capacity.

“It is digital exclusion and I feel I am forgotten about.”

SNP duty of care failure

Public spending scrutiny group Audit Scotland recently identified problems with R100.

Their report found the majority of those still waiting to be connected were in the north where connections are expected to be “challenging and expensive”.

Jamie Halcro Johnston MSP

Jamie Halcro Johnston, Conservative MSP for the Highlands and Islands, said: “We cannot possibly hope to address the threat of depopulation in rural Scotland unless this vital infrastructure, which is commonplace elsewhere, is put in place.

“Unfortunately, as is becoming the norm with this Scottish Government, rural communities are being left behind because of lack of investment in, or lack of delivery of, key infrastructure.”

‘Excellent progress’

A spokesman for the Scottish Government said: “Excellent progress has been made in delivering complex digital infrastructure projects, including the highly successful Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband programme.

“The Scottish Government has connected nearly a million premises to faster broadband through public sector investment worth an estimated £311 million.

“Despite telecoms legislation being reserved (to Westminster), the Scottish Government remain on track to begin deploying 16 subsea cables – which will deliver resilient, gigabit-capable connectivity to 15 islands – later this year.

“The projected completion date and cost of the R100 North contract reflects the scale of the engineering challenge of delivering full-fibre broadband to Scotland’s hardest-to-reach communities.”

Mr Barker’s petition is collecting signatures until April 4.

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

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