MSP welcomes broadband announcement

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WESTERN Isles MSP, Alasdair Allan, has today (Monday) welcomed news of a £120 million investment in broadband in the Highlands and Islands.

The news, which will be discussed by Scottish Ministers as they attend the Convention of the Highlands and Islands, which is meeting in Borve, Isle of Lewis, represents a major investment in world-class connectivity for island homes and businesses.

Alasdair Allan commented: “This announcement today by Infrastructure Secretary, Alex Neil MSP, represents real and serious investment towards making sure the Highlands and islands have the broadband connection they deserve. It is important that the geographic facts of the Highlands and islands are recognised, when it comes to ensuring Scotland benefits from next generation broadband.

“HIE, who are in conversation with BT at present are drawing up plans which will include in some areas major works such as new sub-sea cables, and which will, I hope, now ensure next generation broadband comes to the islands over the next few years.

“The Scottish Government has undertaken to ensure that there is a substantial uplift in the service to all houses and businesses by 2015, including to areas which currently have no broadband connection at all.

“I will be keeping in touch with the project to establish further details about works to be carried out locally, as the contract for the Highlands and Islands will be awarded as soon as August. Work will start shortly thereafter to address the ‘backhaul’ issue – in other words the huge amount of work that needs to be done between the Western Isles and the central belt before we have any chance of improved broadband speeds here.

“The £120 million investment announced represents, I believe, real cooperation between central and local government to ensure that the Highlands and Islands are first, not last, in the queue when it comes to developing the connectivity that our rural economy needs.”