20th January 2020
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Beatrice Wishart hits out at delay of isles broadband roll-out

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The Reaching 100% (R100) superfast broadband programme is set to be delayed from reaching Shetland after the Scottish government was hit by a legal challenge.

Internet-service provider Gigaclear Ltd. have challenged the awarding of the broadband contract for the north of Scotland, awarded to BT, who have also been awarded the other two contracts for the roll-out of the R100 programme.

Scottish minister for connectivity, Paul Wheelhouse, announced in Holyrood on Thursday 19th December that BT had been selected as the preferred bidder for “lot 1”, which covers the north of Scotland.

But the English-based Gigaclear, who say they are committed to unlocking “the potential of poorly-connected communities across the UK”, have submitted a legal challenge to the awarding of the north Scotland contract.

This is now likely to result in a delay of the roll-out of the £600 million superfast broadband programme to the north of Scotland, and MSP Beatrice Wishart expressed her frustration at a situation that she called a “shambles”.

“It is now almost certain that the R100 won’t be delivered by the end of 2021, as repeatedly promised by the SNP Government.

“Procurement for the contract has already been a shambles with a series of delays.

“This dispute must be resolved quickly so a contractor can get on with building the broadband infrastructure badly needed in Shetland.

“It would be unacceptable for Shetland and the rest of the Highlands and Islands to be left behind once again.”

This is the second such instance of the Scottish government being taken to court over the awarding of contracts to the northern isles over the last two months, with ferry operator Caledonian MacBrayne also raising legal proceedings over the award of the £450 million ferry contract to Serco.

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