Getting to grips with broadband problems

Access to the internet is a right nowadays not a luxury.
Access to the internet is a right nowadays not a luxury.

A hard-hitting report has challenged the Scottish Government to redirect spending to sort out the “serious failings” of the current superfast broadband service.

A Scottish Rural Action working party has compiled a list of five recommendations which will be debated at the Scottish Rural Parliament being held in Brechin from October 6-8.

These include: the Scottish Government redirecting resources to the provision of community/national backhaul, local backbone networks and community hubs to support access networks; ensuring that there are clear upgrade paths available to all rural networks; rural communities should be supported through access to specialist advice according to their needs; existing rural broadband and rural initiatives and resources should be coordinated to best respond to rural broadband requirements and overcome obstacles; and there should be a Scottish Broadband Conference bringing together all stakeholders - Scottish Government, community projects, network providers and suppliers, to evaluate the status quo and share views and solutions.

Amanda Burgauer, chair of SRA said: “This report highlights some of the serious failings of the current system to deliver super-fast broadband to rural communities.

“The mechanisms intended to support communities are preventing, not enabling, progress.

“The systems need to change if we are ever going to see equity between rural and urban communities and delivery of the Scottish Government’s commitment to super-fast broadband to 100 per cent of premises in Scotland.”

Borders MSP John Lamont is hopeful a guaranteed minimum speed for all UK broadband customers can become a reality through the Digital Economy Bill being discussed this week.

“Access to the internet shouldn’t be a luxury, but a right. In this day and age, it is absolutely fundamental to life in 21st Century Britain. Too many premises in the Borders are being left behind by poor broadband provision.

“The UK Government is absolutely correct to bring broadband in line with other utilities such as gas, electricity and water and introduce a requirement for providers to connect anyone who requests broadband.”

Investment in digital infrastructure means 95% of premises should have access to superfast broadband by next year, and introduction of a universal service obligation will help the final 5%.