A step change in broadband

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An independent review of a report into Scottish Borders Council’s £8.4m investment to improve broadband provision in the region concludes that it “possibly” provided value for money.

However, Mark Jackson, a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer, also highlighted that there were “major problems with the quality of the coverage”.

An annual report from industry regulator Ofcom has found that nearly one in five homes in the Scottish Borders remain without access to a superfast broadband connection.

The Connected Nations report concludes that in the Scottish Borders, 83% of homes and businesses have access to a superfast connection of over 30Mbp but take up of these services remains lower, at only 26% in rural areas - most often down to the cost of a faster service.

The report concludes: “There will be some very satisfied end customers in the Scottish Borders and some who continue to be dissatisfied. The whole process was a project on a heroic scale and it has probably made a step change in Superfast Broadband services – but it has also exposed that many more steps are needed.”

Borders MP John Lamont MP said: “This report from the independent regulator calls into question the Scottish Government’s claim that they have met their own broadband target.

“But they also show the situation in the Scottish Borders is far from acceptable. The Scottish Government is responsible for delivering broadband north of the border and they have some explaining to do as to why homes and businesses are so far behind the rest of the UK.”

South Scotland Labour MSP Colin Smyth agrees that the Scottish Government needs to up its game but adds that the UK Government also has to step up efforts to ensure the Borders is not left behind digitally.

Mr Smyth said, “It is no surprise to people living in Borders that we are behind Scotland’s big cities and towns in terms of broadband speeds and mobile signal. It is essential that the Scottish Government bring forward a detailed strategy on their much talked about R100 programme.

“Both the Scottish and UK Government’s must announce funding for the Borderlands Growth Deal that includes initiatives to improve digital connections locally.”