Braodband good, but not enough

FUNDING for superfast broadband to be rolled out in rural areas of Scotland has been welcomed by politicians - but they also warned it was not enough.

SNP MSP for the South of Scotland Chic Brodie and Carrick MSP Adam Ingram believe this to be good news for rural Ayrshire, however he did warn that the £68.8 million given by Westminster won’t be enough to cover the whole country.

Last week, UK Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt announced that Scotland is to receive £68 million to roll out superfast broadband, from the UK Government’s £530 million broadband fund.

Mr Brodie explained: “This is good news for rural Ayrshire as any help towards equipping rural Scotland with superfast broadband is welcome, but I don’t think Mr Hunt’s announcement goes far enough.

“Rolling out access to superfast broadband across Scotland is going to be an expensive business and a significant part of those costs comes from overcoming the infrastructure issues that remote rural communities present to service providers.

“The estimated total cost of providing broadband in the Highlands & Islands, for example, is £300 million, which suggests the money is going to be stretched.

“The Scottish Government has already promised £50 million to help fund broadband projects.”

The contract for the work has already been placed to tender and BT Scotland has stated that they will be bidding for the work that will boost communication infastructure throughout Scotland.

Brendan Dick, BT Scotland director, said: “With this investment coupled with Scottish Government and other private and public sector funding, we can start the journey, but we should not under-estimate the challenge.

“BT is investing more than any other company to roll out super-fast broadband in Scotland and we are keen to reach even more areas by working with the public sector. Our partnerships in Northern Ireland and Cornwall show what can be achieved when the private and public sector work together and so we will consider bidding for these funds in due course.

“There needs to be a collective effort if super-fast broadband is to reach all of Scotland. BT is willing and able to play its part but local government and community groups will also need to get involved if rural areas are to benefit.”

Mr Ingram vowed to fight to make sure that this area will be one of the first to see superfast broadband introduced.

He said: “It is essential that the Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley area receive a share of this funding for the sake of the local economy, our public services and to enhance its attraction for inward investment and to improve the competitiveness and sustainability of our diverse economy.

“I will work hard to ensure Carrick, Cumnock and the Doon Valley area receive their fair share of any funds distributed and will campaign to that effect.”