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Highland MSP ‘shocked and dismayed’ over broadband broken promises

By Tom Ramage

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Edward Mountain is ‘shocked and dismayed’ that the Scottish Government today (Wednesday, October 30) confirmed that their R100 broadband programme would not deliver for all households and businesses.

Edward Mountain MSP
Edward Mountain MSP

The outburst followed an evidence session held by the Scottish Parliament’s Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee regarding digital infrastructure.

The Highland MSP also fears that the Scottish Government will not deliver superfast broadband to the Highlands until 2024.

Holyrood announced in 2017 that it would deliver superfast broadband to all homes and households by 2021, but the project has been dogged by delays.

BT has been confirmed as the preferred bidder to deliver R100 to South Scotland and Central Scotland. A preferred bidder for the North Scotland region, which includes the Highlands and Islands, has yet to be confirmed by the Scottish Government.

Following the REC Committee session Mr Mountain said: “I am shocked and dismayed at the Scottish Government’s mishandling of the rollout of superfast broadband.

"It was made clear that the R100 programme will not deliver fibre broadband to every household and business. That means private companies will be expected to plug the gap at their own expense and that could mean there are significant price differences for internet access across the Highlands.

"It’s now almost inevitable the Scottish Government will break their promise of delivering R100 by 2021 and I fear that Highlanders will not access superfast broadband until 2024.

"While Southern and Central Scotland at least know that BT is the preferred bidder to deliver R100, we are no further forward in the Highlands."

He said the Scottish Government’s handling of their R100 programme had been a complete shambles.

"They have dithered and delayed and as a result too many families and businesses are stuck with little to no internet at all.

"Today the Minister left me with little confidence that delivering superfast broadband would be accelerated anytime soon.

"Frankly, that’s unacceptable. We need superfast broadband for the Highlands as a matter of urgency.”

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