A Highlands and Islands MSP challenged the Scottish Government over the provision of fast and reliable broadband in the rural communities of his Highlands and Islands region.
Jamie McGrigor (Conservative) questioned the Deputy First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, at Thursday’s Question Time in the Scottish Parliament, highlighting the plight of constituents in communities where BT has no immediate plans for upgrading local exchanges or where conventional broadband is not available and only satellite broadband is an option.
The Deputy First Minister said that the Scottish Government and its partners were investing £126 million in the Highlands & Islands and was on track to deliver fast broadband to 84% of the region by 2017/218. She also said that Community Broadband Scotland was seeking to come up with innovative solutions for the most hard to reach areas.
Speaking afterwards Jamie said: “While I welcome the investment that is being made, I continue to receive representations from constituents in rural communities across my region who feel they are being left behind. These include communities like Whitehouse in North Kintyre, and many others like it, where BT has no immediate plans to upgrade local exchanges.
“Some constituents in particularly remote areas where conventional broadband is unavailable are using satellite broadband but this can unreliable and extremely expensive with some constituents paying up to £100 per month for this service, a cost that is prohibitive for people on lower incomes.
“ It is vital that fast and affordable broadband is delivered to the whole of the Highlands and Islands region as quickly as possible to avoid rural areas being placed at a real economic disadvantage compared to the more urban areas which already have this.
“ I will continue to speak up on behalf of rural communities in my region on this important issue and would be happy to hear from other concerned local residents and to take up more individual cases with the Scottish Government.”