Shetland broadband criticised header image

Published: 22nd Jun 2016

The Conservative Scottish parliamentary candidate for the Shetland Islands has criticised the current state of broadband provision in the area.

He raised the issue in response to a recent Go ON UK survey that found 14.4 per cent of islanders do not even have a bandwidth of two mbps, which is the government’s definition of “basic broadband”.

What’s more, the research revealed that 20 per cent of adults in the Shetland Islands have never been online, representing one of the highest rates of digital exclusion in the UK. This is a serious issue, as it can limit an individual’s ability to engage with the wider world in a variety of ways, such as accessing services and looking for work.

Cameron Smith told Shetland News: “Much more needs to be done to deliver true broadband to communities across Shetland.”

“Scottish Conservatives share this disappointment, and that [is] why we have committed to doubling funding under a new rural broadband scheme that would deliver solutions for all communities, and not only the easily-connected 95 per cent of Scotland.”

Shetland Broadband and Shetland Telecom have recently criticised BT’s plans to roll out fibre internet access. This is because the project will not involve fibre connections from cabinets to properties, meaning that many homes and businesses will not be able to achieve the speeds classed as “superfast”.

This disparity led to Ian Brown of Shetland Broadband suggesting that it was “totally legal, but morally wrong, to be describing this project as ‘fibre’.”

BT aims to connect 76 per cent of Shetland Islands properties by the end of 2016 as part of its UK-wide scheme to provide 95 per cent coverage of superfast broadband by 2017, which is backed by the Scottish government.

Scotland has the lowest level of access to superfast broadband in the UK, and the situation is particularly bad in the most isolated areas of the Highlands and islands.