Disappointment as broadband target slips by two years
The UK government is two years behind schedule on its target of providing broadband to 90 per cent of the population by 2015.
In response to a report by the National Audit Office which revealed the delay, isles MP Alistair Carmichael urged the Scottish and UK governments to work together to ensure the target is met.
Getting high-speed broadband in the isles was as important to sustainability as electricity or water supply.
He said: “It is exceptionally disappointing that the roll out of super-fast broadband should have been allowed to fall behind in this way. Some of the reasons given will surprise no one in the northern isles – the lack of infrastructure here and the delay in getting money from the EU Commission are both familiar stories to us.”
However an additional £250 million has been pledged by Westminster to try to get the scheme back on track
Mr Carmichael said: “I very much hope that the extra £250 million of new money announced by the UK government last week will get this project back on track. I shall, however, be pressing ministers and officials for the details of how this money will be used. We need to know that it is sufficient both to do the work and to do it within the previously identified timescale.”
“I am wanting early meetings with all the bodies concerned, especially Highlands and Islands Enterprise to satisfy myself that they have the tools to do the job properly now.
“We have got to stop thinking of broadband and other connectivity issues as being some sort of luxury. It is as important to the future sustainability of our communities as having a supply of water or electricity.”
Culture secretary Maria Miller welcomed the announcement of new investment. The money will come from TV licence fee funds, and it’s expected that it will be match funded locally to bring the total extra public investment to £500 million.
She claimed that each week another 100,000 homes in the UK were connected to super-fast broadband, but added: “We want to go even further and that’s why we are now setting a new target to reach 95% of premises by 2017,” she said.