Over 70% of Western Isles homes and businesses are now covered by superfast broadband – but there is still a lot of work to be done on broadband availability in the isles, says Outer Hebrides MSP Alasdair Allan.
Dr Allan today (Wednesday, April 18th) welcomed news that in the Western Isles, Government investment has led to more than 135 fibre cabinets being built, delivering superfast broadband access to more than 12,000 premises and covering around 71% of homes and business.
“More than 71% of homes in the Western Isles now have access to superfast broadband,” said Dr Allan, adding: “This figure was zero before this project started.”
Highlands and Islands Enterprise are leading the £146million Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband (DSSB) project in the area, which has surpassed the target of reaching 86% of premises across the Highlands and islands as a result of successful take-up and efficiencies in BT delivery.
This represents massive progress since 2013, when on 4% had access to fibre broadband in the region.
“It is a landmark achievement that the DSSB project – the most ambitious fibre infrastructure programme in the whole of Europe – is already exceeding the aims set out in the 2017-18 Programme of Government,” said Dr Allan.
The Scottish Government has also already exceeded its Programme for Government pledge to deliver fibre broadband to more than 95% of premises in Scotland – but more must be done in the Western Isles continued Dr Allan: “However, this is of course no comfort to all the people who still don’t benefit.
“The Scottish Government will not rest until the £600million ‘Reaching 100%’ programme delivers access speeds of at least 30Mbps to every single premise in Scotland, no matter the location, by 2021.
“Fast and reliable internet is fundamental for the future economic and social success of our islands,” he continued.
“It won’t be easy, but the Scottish Government is focussed on ensuring that rural communities are among the first to benefit from our commitment to provide 100% access to superfast broadband and turn Scotland into a world-class digital nation.”
Partners involved in the Digital Highlands and Islands Project include Digital Scotland, the Scottish Government, the European Regional Development Fund, Broadband Delivery UK, Citizens Online, and Business Gateway.