MSP presses broadband case

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Christine Grahame MSP pressed home the case for better broadband and mobile coverage in the Borders during a debate in Parliament last week.

Ms Grahame believes poor broadband and 3G network coverage is a hindrance to Scotland’s economy and to people accessing services and she highlighted the case of a constituent who wrote to her on the issue recently.

She said: “Many of us get letters from our constituents on the matter, and I will quote from one of mine, who raised with me the problems for business.”

He said: “As an individual consumer I have always thought that the provision of a modern communications infrastructure is beneficial to a sparsely populated area like ours. Since starting my own business over two years ago I have come to realise that a high capacity broadband service is not only desirable but of crucial importance to the survival and competitiveness of businesses based in regions like the Borders. Ironically, access to the national and international travel infrastructure is actually quite good: I can reach London within four hours on the now much improved East Coast service; and I can reach major international aviation hubs like Schiphol and Heathrow through Edinburgh and Newcastle airports. However, access to the internet is so poor as to represent a growing cost to my company.”

Ms Grahame also emphasised the need for broadband for practical needs such as e-government and e-health.

“The Health and Sport Committee did a terrific report on it in the previous session of Parliament, but we are still not using it,” she added. “It saves people from making long and stressful journeys. We could be doing that. We need better mobile coverage so that people with hearing disabilities can text the NHS to make appointments. And we need broadband for local television, which is the coming thing.

“In order for our region to prosper economically, socially and culturally we need to take advantage of the digital age.”