Broadband top of Digital Forum agenda

THE tenth Borders Digital Forum met last Friday to discuss broadband provision in the Borders and Scottish Borders Council’s plans to bring a better service to the region.

Borders MP Michael Moore first set up the forum in 2005 to help prepare Borderers for the digital switchover, and since then it has covered issues such as digital radio coverage and the future switchover from analogue to digital radio.

Mr Moore chaired last week’s meeting during which Duncan Nisbet from Scottish Borders Council set out the council’s joint work with Dumfries and Galloway Council to bid for £36 million to roll out better broadband in the region by 2017.

Mr Moore explained that the UK Government has committed nearly £70 million for investment in broadband in Scotland and along with Scottish Government and EU funding, the total public funding available will be around £144.3 million.

Local business representatives from EBS Europe, GB Telecom (Scotland) Ltd and Emtelle attended the meeting and each outlined the importance of broadband to their businesses and the work they are doing to promote faster broadband locally and further afield.

After the meeting, Mr Moore said: “Broadband is an essential tool for businesses and individuals, whether to fill out tax returns, connect with friends or communicate with colleagues. It is incredibly frustrating that many areas in the Borders have a poor service or some, none at all.

“The forum was a great opportunity for community groups, businesses and individuals to get together and discuss this important issue. I particularly welcomed the work of the council on their bid for funding to roll out better broadband across the region.

“There are no quick fixes to this issue and those at the meeting agreed we need to get behind the council’s bid and work together as a community to bring broadband to the area.

“We have had fantastic announcements from BT recently of superfast broadband roll-outs in Gala, Peebles and Innerleithen and fast broadband in Kelso. I want to see these improvements spread to all our communities in the Borders and following the forum, I will continue to work with local stakeholders and the council to make this happen.”