Importance of good broadband

MP Angus MacNeil is working to drive forward improvements to broadband connections in the Islands.

MP Angus MacNeil is working to drive forward improvements to broadband connections in the Islands.

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Broadband is the number one issue which constituents have raised with MP Angus MacNeil this summer.

And the Western Isles MP will be conveying that strength of feeling to the UK Minister of State for Digital and Culture, Matt Hancock MP, when he meets him on October 10th.

They will discuss the roll-out of superfast broadband and plans for a Universal Service Obligation which would give all Island residents the right to a minimum service.

With more than 100 constituents contacting him on the matter over the summer, Mr MacNeil is also calling for communities to be kept better informed of current plans to improve services.

He said: “From the Butt to Barra, constituents have contacted me to seek details of when they can expect progress. I know it is extremely frustrating particularly for those with no prospect of being connected to fibre broadband any time soon.

“I know that there are many homes with extremely slow speeds and those who cannot receive any form of broadband – a circumstance which would be inconceivable for someone living in a city address.

“The fact that so many people contact me on this issue show just how important this is to people. A reliable broadband connection is essential for most of us.”

Making every effort to drive forward improvements, Mr MacNeil is in regular contact with HIE and BT for details of the superfast broadband rollout in the islands and has regular contact with BT Scotland Director Brendan Dick.

He has also taken on the case of groups of homes in the Back, Point and Achmore areas of Lewis and businesses in South Uist where specific difficulties have arisen and is also very aware that many homes are not included in the roll out programme.

He added: “I have been contacted by many constituents who are supporting a campaign calling for improvements to infrastructure to ensure fast reliable broadband. An Ofcom consultation on the future relationship between BT and Openreach is currently open on this matter and I would encourage constituents to respond to that.

“I feel that communities could be kept better informed of the plans for their specific area and the changes to those plans which can and do happen regularly. I will continue to liaise with all agencies to push for a better service for the people of the islands. This includes regular discussions with mobile phone operators regarding their plans for 3G and 4G services.”