Criticism of rural broadband rollout progress

Local MSP Finlay Carson says that rural economies such as Dumfries and Galloway are being damaged by a lack of high speed broadband.
Local MSP Finlay Carson says that rural economies such as Dumfries and Galloway are being damaged by a lack of high speed broadband.

Galloway and West Dumfries MSP Finlay Carson criticised what he says is the Scottish Government’s slow progress on rolling out broadband to rural communities.

Mr Carson’s comments were made during a recent debate in the Scottish Parliament when he, as Conservative spokesman for the Digital Economy, highlighted failures to give superfast broadband to rural communities and accused the government of widening the digital divide across Scotland.

He highlighted cases of businesses across Galloway and West Dumfries of people who he said as yet do not know when they will gain superfast broadband and in some instances might have to wait for years to be upgraded.

Mr Carson also said the SNP Government’s Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing’s words “simply would not wash” with rural constituents unable to access superfast broadband speeds.

He said: “While the SNP Government make many boasts of achieving their 95 per cent fibre broadband target, the reality for many communities and businesses across Galloway and West Dumfries is that they have no idea when they will be getting superfast broadband.

“The SNP’s lack of progress in rolling out superfast broadband to communities who require it the most is only widening the digital divide between rural communities and those in the central belt who were already able to enjoy superfast speeds.

“All this is doing is harming the rural economy and putting off people and businesses from living and investing in rural communities, when they have no idea if broadband will be available in a short timescale.

“I completely share the frustrations of local businesses who are missing out on bookings from visitors as a result of a lack of information on superfast broadband, which is a failure of the SNP Government to engage with rural communities.

“Boosting the infrastructure is absolutely vital for this region going forward and the digital economy will play a major role in boosting the local economy.

“Fergus Ewing’s boasts of reaching 95 per cent fibre broadband simply will not wash with my constituents who are still burdened with painfully slow speeds.

“That is why as a matter of urgency, the SNP Government’s R100 programme must deliver for our rural communities in order that they do not get left behind in the digital revolution, when compared not only with the central belt, but the rest of the United Kingdom as well.”