Alasdair Allan MSP calls for faster Western Isles broadband

Tuesday, January 31st 2012
Faster broadband is needed across the Western Isles, according to Alasdair Allan MSP.
Alasdair Allan MSP calls for faster Western Isles broadband
Super-fast broadband connectivity must be rolled out across rural Scotland as well as the country's towns and cities, Western Isles MSP Alasdair Allan has argued.

In a letter to Scotland's Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure and Capital Investment Alex Neil, Dr Allan asked for clarification to be made on when faster broadband will be rolled out in his constituency.

The politician is particularly eager to gain assurances from the Scottish government that the Western Isles and other remote communities will not be left behind in the race for next-generation broadband access.

Ofcom has previously described the task of measuring the quality of broadband services in the Western Isles as "complicated", because not all local telephone exchanges are capable of supporting the technology - a fact the regulator said is reflected in the low take-up of fixed-line connections.

Although wireless broadband is available to parts of the isles through the Connected Communities initiative, the lack of fixed access means the 23 per cent of properties that Ofcom claims are stuck with speeds of less than 2Mbps will actually "underestimate the problem", the telecoms watchdog explained.

After receiving representations on the matter from constituents in Uig and other areas, Dr Allan has taken the opportunity to discover the Scottish government's intentions for improving broadband services across the isles.

There is "much talk" about the benefits of next-generation broadband, but it is essential this is rolled out across the whole of Scotland rather than just the large towns and cities, the MSP declared.

"Quite rightly, people in the islands want to know that they will not be the last to benefit from this new service," he remarked.

"I am encouraged by the Scottish government's willingness to work with both the UK government and private sector to find solutions to this issue, but I intend to keep up the pressure."

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