Hoping for clarity on broadband

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Highlands and Islands Labour MSP, Rhoda Grant, has said that she’s hopes to have ‘definitive clarity’ soon on what areas will, and what areas will not, receive superfast broadband in the coming year via the UK and SNP Government’s Next Generation Broadband rollout.

The £146m programme was announced in March 2013 and is intended to bring access to fibre broadband to around 84% of Highlands and Islands homes and businesses by the end of 2016.

Mrs Grant however, continues to receive complaints from householders and business owners who are not receiving a superfast service, and are unsure if they will receive one under the current phase of the programme.

Commenting, Mrs Grant said: “Poor access to broadband continues to be one of the biggest issues in my mailbox.

“The programme, when announced, gave real hope for future improvements but, almost three years on, many people in the area still don’t know if they are going to benefit from the ollout next year.

“I have been contacted by two significant employers in the area, both of whom are saying inadequate access to broadband has led them to consider relocating their businesses. This is exactly what we are trying to avoid.

Mrs Grant continued “I requested a meeting with John Swinney, the SNP’s Deputy First Minister, to emphasise to him the impact the uncertainty is having on householders and businesses but he has refused to meet with me due to ‘diary pressures’.

“It is not right that the very areas that have the most to gain from broadband, are going to be amongst the last to be seeing improvements.

“It is a massive project to get everyone in the Highlands and Islands access to superfast broadband but it’s a project that John Swinney and his government need to realise is a game changer for people in the Highlands and Islands and they need to bring forward the answers and increased funding if that is what is required.”