High­lands among the worst in Bri­tain for broad­band speeds

The Oban Times - - News -

THE HIGH­LANDS has been ranked as one of the worst places in Bri­tain for broad­band speeds.

Con­sumer cham­pion Which? re­vealed the news last week fol­low­ing new anal­y­sis.

The High­lands fin­ished in the bot­tom five for Scot­land, along­side Orkney Is­lands and Shet­land Is­lands, with speeds fall­ing be­low 10mbps.

10Mbps is the min­i­mum down­load speed pro­posed un­der the Gov­ern­ment’s Uni­ver­sal Ser­vice Obli­ga­tion (USO) that any­one in the UK would be en­ti­tled to re­quest and is re­garded as nec­es­sary to meet the typ­i­cal de­mands of a fam­ily or small busi­ness.

Com­ment­ing on the re­port, Scot­tish Labour Con­nec­tiv­ity spokesper­son Rhoda Grant said it was proof of ‘un­ac­cept­able de­lays and fail­ure from the SNP’.

‘This re­port again high­lights that re­mote and ru­ral ar­eas in­clud­ing Orkney, Shet­land, the West­ern Isles and the High­lands are still at the back of the queue for con­nec­tions and that more than half of homes in some parts of ru­ral Scot­land are still strug­gling with very slow in­ter­net speeds,’ she said. ‘It’s the ru­ral ar­eas that have most to gain from be­ing able to ac­cess su­per­fast broad­band but yet again the High­lands and Is­lands ap­pear to be an af­ter­thought.’

But Cab­i­net Sec­re­tary for Con­nec­tiv­ity Fer­gus Ewing said the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment is on track to de­liver fi­bre broad­band to at least 95 per cent of premises across Scot­land by the end of this year.

He said: ‘ With­out our in­vest­ment, only 66 per cent of premises would have been reached, with as lit­tle as 21 per cent cov- er­age across the High­lands and no cov­er­age at all in Orkney, Shet­land and the West­ern Isles.’

Mr Ewing added he is aware many homes and busi­nesses do not yet have ac­cess.

In the High­land Coun­cil area 25 per cent of premises had ac­cess to fi­bre broad­band in 2012.

Most re­cent fig­ures show that 75 per cent of premises across the High­land Coun­cil area can now ac­cess fi­bre broad­band and 69 per cent are ca­pa­ble of ac­cess­ing su­per­fast speeds.

Ms Grant said broad­band is key to fight­ing pop­u­la­tion de- cline across the High­lands and Is­lands.

‘Ru­ral ar­eas need broad­band to com­pete in the global mar­ket place and to safe­guard against pop­u­la­tion de­cline. Ru­ral and is­land schools and col­leges need it to de­liver to re­mote stu­dents and our health boards need it to de­liver tele-health ser­vices to re­mote pa­tients.

‘ We need so­lu­tions to the un­equal and un­fair dis­tri­bu­tion of fast broad­band across Scot­land, which is see­ing the High­lands and Is­lands be­ing left be­hind, and we need th­ese so­lu­tions sooner rather than later.’ Which?’s Fix Bad Broad­band cam­paign is call­ing on peo­ple to use its free speed checker to find out what broad­band speed they are cur­rently get­ting and if they are not get­ting the speeds they were promised, helps them com­plain to their provider us­ing a com­plaint tool.

Alex Neill, Which? man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of home ser­vices, said: ‘Far too many house­holds across the UK are suf­fer­ing from slow broad­band speeds, which can stop you be­ing able to carry out es­sen­tial daily tasks.’

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