MSP demands digital revolution for ‘hard to reach’ parts of isles
MSP Beatrice Wishart quizzed engineers from Openreach about Shetland’s digital future during a drop-in session at the Scottish Parliament last Thursday.
Ms Wishart heard about the work being done to upgrade the country’s broadband network and how politicians could help industry investors to speed up the build.
She also tried connecting tiny glass fibres used to transmit data at the speed of light and chatted to some of the 220 new apprentices taken on by Openreach in Scotland this year.
Ms Wishart said: “I was pleased to be able to meet with Openreach to learn about the important upgrades to the network. It’s clear, however, that too many people in Shetland are struggling to get the internet speeds they need. Good connectivity is increasingly essential for people to access public services.
“The isles cannot be left behind so it is crucial that any further build is targeted from the outside in so that the hard to reach places in Shetland who have waited longest for superfast broadband are connected first.”
The drop-in event was hosted by Brendan Dick, chairman of the Openreach board in Scotland.
He said: “We can’t build a new full fibre network for Scotland without support from our public sector partners. It won’t be quick or easy, but action to reduce red tape and remove barriers will speed things up.
“The Scottish government has already reduced the tax on fibre infrastructure but we also need to make street works and getting access to land and blocks of flats simpler and mandate full fibre for all new housing developments, which we think is a no-brainer.
“But this is not simply about putting wires into the ground. It’s about what full fibre technology can do for Scotland, helping to answer long term challenges like energy use, climate change and sustainable rural communities.”