First success in rural broadband campaign

The Scottish Rural Parliament have hailed 'an early success' in their Rural Broadband Campaign
The Scottish Rural Parliament have hailed 'an early success' in their Rural Broadband Campaign

The Scottish Rural Parliament have announced that they have achieved “an early success” in their campaign to improve rural broadband services.

They report that the Scottish Government have commissioned additional work from BT to confirm in autumn which areas will and will not get superfast broadband through the BT roll-out.

And the Scottish Rural Parliament say that this knowledge will enable those communities unable to access superfast broadband through BT to work with Community Broadband Scotland to identify alternative methods of accessing this essential service.

In addition, representatives of the Rural Parliament will be meeting with BT and the Scottish Government next week to consider the additional issues raised throughout the campaign.

As was reported in The Herald earlier this month the Rural Parliament had identified the problems of digital connectivity to be their first campaign, and they are still in the process of gathering evidence of key issues via a short survey for discussion at this meeting. Members of the public with one or more of the following four concerns can submit their evidence here:

• The date for superfast broadband coming to your area has been moved back

• Your neighbours get superfast broadband but you don’t

• BT has not yet told you if you will or will not get superfast broadband

• You have superfast broadband but it is still slow

National Coordinator of the Scottish Rural Parliament Emma Cooper said “The opportunity for communities to find solutions to their broadband needs ahead of the previously published timescales is very welcome and will ensure that the rural – urban connectivity divide is not widened further. We’d like to thank all of those who signed the petition, publicised it for us, expressed their support and otherwise helped us to make quick progress with this campaign. We still have a long way to go until all rural communities have sufficient digital connectivity but we recognise that this is a positive step in the right direction.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said, “The Scottish Government has established Community Broadband Scotland (CBS) to support those communities that won’t have a fibre solution delivered by the DSSB programme. We are determined that these communities are not left to the end and that CBS supports activity in parallel with DSSB roll-out. We have asked BT to undertake further modelling, which we expect will provide clarity on those areas that they will not reach and allow CBS and the communities in question to design alternative solutions. We anticipate the results of the modelling will be available in the Autumn.”

In related news, also reported in this week’s Herald, Aberdeenshire East MSP Alex Salmond has taken the UK’s four main mobile phone network providers to task over the poor network coverage in rural Aberdeenshire.

Mr Salmond, has written to the CEOs of EE, O2, Vodafone and Three, asking them to provide a full analysis of their existing cover across both constituencies and what plans they have to improve and upgrade services to support 3G and 4G.