A recent study by communications watchdog Ofcom has revealed that large parts of Scotland suffer from poor coverage for services including broadband, digital TV and radio, and 3G mobile networks.
A range of maps, produced by Ofcom, demonstrate coverage of a range of different services. When I attended Kirkliston Community Council recently – access to decent broadband was one of the issues residents were most keen to see progress on. I’ve since been lobbying for action on behalf of the local community.
A high proportion of Scotland’s rural communities are missing out on broadband and digital connections. The UK Government recently allocated the Scottish Government with £68.8m for the rollout of next genertion broadband and I understand that the Scottish Government are lobbying for more money.
The Scottish Government’s target is to provide next generation broadband to all by 2020 and to have made significant progress towards that goal by 2015.
We know decent broadband connections are vital for economic development and to give rural businesses a chance to compete effectively. As consumers, people living in areas with poor coverage need to be given access to decent digital services.
Ofcom now needs to act to make sure that Scotland doesn’t miss out. Access to the internet is so important economically and socially that we cannot afford for people to miss out on the opportunities that are available. My view is that having followed several briefings in the Parliament over the last few days, there’s no vision for improving access and no plan to bring about the infrastructure that is so important for our future. Other countries are powering ahead and we cannot afford to be left behind.
There’s a real challenge for the UK and Scottish Governments to do more to make high speed broadband and digital services a reality – not just an aspiration.