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More broadband funding sought for Scottish Highlands and Islands

Wednesday, January 28th 2015 by Dean Reilly

Improving broadband access for the Highlands and Islands should be a priority for the Scottish government, according to a member of the Scottish parliament.

Rhoda Grant (Lab – Highlands and Islands) said further funding is available and that the Scottish government is currently deciding where the money should go.

Mrs Grant, a long term campaigner for better broadband in rural Scotland, said: “I know from my postbag that while great steps are being taken in improving the situation in the Highlands and Islands, much remains to be done to increase levels of delivery.

“The Highlands and Islands started out from a lower base level of coverage and I have asked the Cabinet Secretary to ensure a level playing field across the country by bringing the Highlands and Islands up to the same standard as is deemed acceptable in urban Scotland.”

She added that although work was still ongoing, “geographical challenges” may mean that some people in remote parts of the country could still lose out.

“Scottish Labour in the Highlands and Islands has led the way on bringing about much needed improvement, and indeed, the introduction of broadband services to some parts of the Highlands and Islands.

“The Highlands and Islands is where the campaign to improve broadband services began back in 2005 and I want to see the area benefit from the same standards as urban Scotland receives.”

As previously reported, Community Broadband Scotland (CBS) director Mark Tate told Cable.co.uk that money, not technology, was the biggest barrier to broadband access in rural Scotland.

Mr Tate, who heads a £7.5m project to reach the remaining 16% in Scotland’s Highlands and Islands region not covered by current superfast broadband targets, said: “Everything is possible, every area is possible.

“Certainly the technology is there. The challenge is never the technology. The challenge is the business model to make it work. The challenge is the sustainability.”

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