Campaign launched to connect rural areas

The Scottish Rural Parliament are to meet with BT to discuss broadband and mobile phone connectivity
The Scottish Rural Parliament are to meet with BT to discuss broadband and mobile phone connectivity
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The Scottish Rural Parliament has announced that its first campaign will focus on a key issue for rural communities, digital connectivity.

It says it will seek a review of the failing Mobile Infrastructure Project and a quicker response from BT about which communities will receive superfast broadband.

The move comes as many areas across Aberdeenshire struggle to receive either a mobile phone signal or acceptable internet connection, or in some cases both.

The Scottish Rural Parliament has said that problems with digital connectivity was the most frequently raised issue by rural communities during the lead up to the first Rural Parliament in November last year.

It says that “poor digital connectivity is viewed as having a serious negative effect on business, safety, health care, social and family connections, education and is cited as a reason for the out-migration of young people from some rural areas.

It is the view of the Scottish Rural Parliament that excellent 4G mobile signal and superfast broadband are essential services which should be available for all.”

Chair, John Hutchison, said: “Broadband and mobile phone signal are now essential services for rural communities, without which our businesses and communities cannot thrive. This has been recognised by both the Scottish and UK Governments who have commissioned work to improve broadband and mobile signal availability respectively.

“Unfortunately there are serious concerns in both cases about the speed with which service improvements are being made. We are being left further and further behind urban areas and other countries in Europe the longer we have to wait. We need these concerns to be answered and call upon those responsible to act urgently in responding to those concerns.

“We had already received a response from BT about the broadband programme but did not consider it to be sufficient. BT have now agreed to meet with us and we welcome that opportunity. We need to maintain the pressure until improvements are made.”

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Community Broadband Scotland has been set-up to focus on providing broadband solutions in the areas that will not benefit from the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband rollouts. Until BT confirms where the roll-out of superfast broadband will extend to however, communities are unable to work with CBS to take action themselves. The Scottish Rural Parliament has called on BT to act quickly to confirm the reach of their superfast programme.

The campaign received a response from BT which is responsible for delivering the fibre broadband roll-out. This response is considered to be inadequate, directing people to the map of where they currently anticipate superfast broadband will and won’t be rolled out to. There are large areas yet to be confirmed. In some cases this confirmation will not be received until December 2016. An offer from BT to meet with the organisers of the Rural Parliament was received recently.

The Scottish Rural Parliament asks that those who share their concerns sign their two petitions which call for broadband and mobile signal improvements.

The petitions and more information can be found here: http://www.scottishruralparliament.org.uk/digital-campaign/