SNP: UK’S broadband plans ‘unfair’ to Scots
Scottish MPS have called for more broadband funding from the UK Government, claiming Scotland is being left out of current schemes, and Scottish customers will end up subsidising new services elsewhere in the UK.
They have criticised the Government’s universal service obligation (USO), which gives citizens in “eligible” premises the legal right to demand speeds of at least 10Mbps.
To fund this programme, which requires delivering broadband to many remote areas, ISPS are likely to pass on the cost to customers through higher bills. This has angered the SNP, which says Scots will end up paying more for their broadband even though no premises in Scotland are eligible for the USO.
Fergus Ewing, the SNP’S Rural Economy Secretary, called this “grossly unfair”. He wrote to Culture Secretary Matt Hancock saying: “If excluded from the USO, people in Scotland would get nothing back despite contributing funding”.
Mr Ewing claimed the scheme was “indicative of the UK Government’s approach to broadband rollout thus far, which has been to ignore the needs of Scotland”, leaving large rural parts of the country “completely disconnected”.
He asked Mr Hancock to incorporate the USO with the Scottish government’s ‘Reaching 100%’ programme, which pledges £600m of public funds to deliver 30Mbps speeds to all premises by 2021.
In response, a UK government spokeswoman said the USO will “benefit citizens across the UK”, and ensure everyone “has a legal right to an affordable, high-speed connection no matter where they live or work”. She added that the 10Mbps figure is expected to increase over time.