Scottish govt urged to invest £69m in super-fast broadband

Tuesday, October 18th 2011
The Scottish National Party must spend more on the country's broadband infrastructure, Tom Greatrex MP has said.
Scottish govt urged to invest £69m in super-fast broadband
The Scottish government has been urged to match almost £69 million of super-fast broadband funding allocated to the country by the Conservative-led coalition.

In August, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport announced that £68.8 million had been assigned to the Scottish National Party (SNP) in an effort to bring next-generation access to 90 per cent of homes and businesses by 2015.

Citizens were urged to speak up in order to ensure that their local authorities matched the funding to achieve an effective delivery plan.

However, the SNP has only been prepared to commit £35 million to the high-speed broadband initiative over the next four years, sparking calls for the government to put its money where its mouth is from one MP.

Speaking to the Herald Scotland, Labour MP and Shadow Energy Minister Tom Greatrex said the amount of money assigned by the Scottish administration is "shameful and short-sighted".

He claimed the country is falling behind the rest of the UK on broadband connectivity because of the SNP's failure to stump up sufficient investment for the rollout.

Mr Greatrex, a former Scotland Office Minister, insisted Scotland has a "disproportionately poor" record on broadband speeds and stated it is not acceptable for Infrastructure and Capital Investment Secretary Alex Neil to blame others for the issue.

"He must put his money where his mouth is and match the UK government's broadband funding. Scotland cannot afford to fall even further behind the rest of the UK," the MP declared.

"The provision of broadband is vital to communities all across Scotland, particularly those in rural and hard-to-reach areas."

Mr Greatrex's fears appear to be backed up by recent research from Ofcom, which showed just 61 per cent of homes in Scotland have a broadband connection - the lowest level of take-up of any UK nation.

Satisfaction with Scottish broadband speeds is also falling, from 83 per cent in 2009 to 73 per cent the following year.

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