MSP calls for urgent action on broadband connectivity

Mr Chapman says the 2021 figure is a laudable ambition, but does not reflect the experience on the ground for many people
Mr Chapman says the 2021 figure is a laudable ambition, but does not reflect the experience on the ground for many people

A North East Region MSP has called on the Scottish Government to take more urgent action to address problems with broadband coverage in rural areas of Aberdeenshire.

Scottish Conservative Peter Chapman said that digital connectivity remains one of the biggest issues raised by constituents.

The SNP government has previously pledged to deliver superfast broadband to 100% of households by 2021, but some rural communities have already been told that they will not be included in the national roll-out.

Mr Chapman has said that the 2021 figure is a laudable ambition, but does not reflect the experience on the ground for many people.

A recent survey by a rural community council in Banffshire found that 30% more local residents would work from home if they could secure a reliable connection, rather than commuting to Aberdeen for work.

He said: “Rural broadband connectivity is fast becoming the biggest issue for people in rural areas.

“I know from speaking to our local councillors in Aberdeenshire that it is probably the most commonly raised issue in many individual wards.

“There is a real concern that rural communities are being left behind in the national roll-out of superfast broadband.

“For many of those living in country areas, a reliable connection would, let alone a superfast one, would be a welcome boost.

“We need to see some more urgency from the SNP government – at the moment it is not happening quickly enough for many people.

“This is vital not just for households accessing the internet, but for children’s education, for businesses to function and for agriculture to flourish – so much of our lives depend on digital infrastructure these days.

“Improved connections could transform the economy in rural areas, increasing inward investment and creating more jobs. I think we would also see more business start-ups if there was a significant improvement in broadband provision.”