A recent policy briefing from the Crichton Institute has highlighted the need for Dumfries and Galloway communities to work together to ensure parts of the region do not miss out on superfast broadband.
The report also outlined the region’s current position compared with broadband speeds across the UK.
Ofcom data from 2013 shows that of the 205 local authority areas assessed for broadband speed, Dumfries and Galloway sits at number 188 averaging just 8 Mbps of bandwidth. Edinburgh and Dundee benefit from speeds of over 23 Mbps.
Written by researcher Elliot Meador of Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC), the policy briefing reviews the Scottish Government’s ambitious goal to bring superfast broadband internet capabilities to the whole of Scotland by 2020.
BT has been contracted to supply 95% of the superfast broadband, with the remaining 5% expected to be covered through local communities working with the Scottish Government-funded organisation Community Broadband Scotland to ensure the necessary infrastructure is developed in their area.
The policy briefing states that it’s likely that parts of Dumfries and Galloway will be left out of BT’s roll out.
Elliot says: “Dumfries and Galloway is already at a huge disadvantage when it comes to broadband speed and we do not yet know which areas of the region will be covered by BT. While the company has already achieved 85% broadband coverage in Scotland, it is believed that 5% of Dumfries and Galloway will miss out.”
“Therefore communities need to be aware of the steps they can take if they find they are in that 5% of Scotland not covered by the BT rollout.”
The briefing outlines the key ways communities can secure funding, and advises them to work with Community Broadband Scotland which is committed to offering the five percent access to broadband in one form or another.
“It is imperative for rural communities who wish to have broadband access in Dumfries and Galloway to act collectively in securing funding from a programme designed for the 5%.” Elliot says. “However, timing of intervention is critical. There is a risk that early action by communities will ease the pressure on BT to plan and prepare to build infrastructure for that community. Waiting until it is too late will likely put higher stress levels on community organisations to act.”