Rachael Hamilton MSP is calling for more innovative and efficient ways of tackling poor broadband speeds and provision in the remote and rural parts of the Borders.
The latest Which? report on broadband found that nearly half of Borders’ homes are experiencing broadband speeds below the legal minimum, which is due to come in 2020.
Only 51% of Borders homes are currently experiencing speeds above the UK Government’s Universal Service Obligation of 10 mbps.
Contracts for the Scottish Government’s new broadband programme (the ‘R100’ programme) have been delayed. In light of this, Ms Hamilton is calling on Fergus Ewing, the Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy, to seek innovative and bespoke solutions for the remote and rural areas where the ‘one-size fits all’ R100 fibre programme will not reach due to geographical constraints.
Similarly, to Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Ms Hamilton is hoping that the new South of Scotland Enterprise Agency will offer Community Broadband Support, which will help them bypass the issues with delayed implementation of the R100 programme.
Ms Hamilton wants the Borders Digital Forum to be reinstated to help Borders businesses digitally and for the upcoming Borderlands Growth Deal to provide funding for further broadband expansion.
Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire MSP, Rachael Hamilton said:
“I want to see more innovative ways of tackling this, and the Scottish Government must empower communities to take charge if they cannot award contracts on time.
“Progress has been slow, and the latest figures still show that rural Scotland and the Borders are not even receiving the minimum guarantee when it comes to broadband speeds.
“The new South of Scotland Enterprise Agency and the Borderlands Deal could provide communities with the funding to invest in the latest technology to bring superfast broadband to their areas.
“Rural areas cannot be held back by delays in the implementation and rollout of superfast broadband.