Lessons from Argyll Islands to boost broadband coverage
Homes and businesses in the isles are being left behind by the rollout of superfast broadband connections, says Shetland MSP Tavish Scott.
Mr Scott said millions of pounds have already been spent but only 4,000 premises in Lerwick, Sumburgh and Quarff have been connected to a fibre cable network.
That means two out of three homes and businesses still cannot access superfast broadband.
The plans for Shetland, he said, mean some areas will see no improvement by 2017.
Mr Scott said he has been pressing the Scottish Government to reverse its policy of targeting the areas with greatest population.
He wants public money to be spent connecting the hardest to reach areas first, but so far the Scottish Government have not changed their approach.
Tomorrow Mr Scott will meet a community-owned broadband service in Mull.
GigaMull has developed its own service to help island communities in Argyll as they Mr Scott said were being left behind by the Scottish Government policy.
The visit is part of the Scottish Parliament’s Audit Committee’s investigation into superfast broadband investments.
Mr Scott said: “I want to understand how the Argyll islands have built their own community owned broadband service.
“There must be lessons for the North Isles of Shetland, Northmavine and other areas. At the moment they are no further forward in getting better broadband services.
“GigaMull has worked successfully with BT, HIE and Community Broadband Scotland to build their network helping local households and businesses obtain a faster broadband service. I want to see if its experience can help the outlying areas of Shetland.
“Community Broadband Scotland (CBS) provide financial assistance for community based groups. I want to learn how CBS and the public agencies have helped the Argyll Islands. It is a great achievement to develop a community based approach and that is a model that could be perfect for parts of Shetland.”
•More in next week’s Shetland Times