BROADBAND REGISTRATION RATES WORRINGLY LOW

NEWS FROM DG LABOUR
MONDAY 2 SEPTEMBER 2013

Dumfries and Galloway MP Russell Brown and Dumfriesshire MSP Elaine Murray have warned that areas of Dumfries and Galloway risk being left behind if more local people do not register their interest in their local community being one of the first areas to receive fibre optic broadband.

The South of Scotland Next Generation Broadband Project has been collecting a register of people in the South of Scotland who want fibre optic broadband. So far, few people in Dumfries and Galloway have registered.

Mr Brown said:

The registration rate in Dumfries and Galloway is worryingly low. In Stranraer the registration rate is only 0.38% while Dumfries is only 0.1% better.

Across the region, barely any of our towns or villages registration rates are in double figures. Compare that to the Scottish Borders, where some of their towns and villages are over 50%. This is a real concern especially in rural areas where broadband is already difficult to get.

We need all those who live in rural areas to register so that the suppliers can see there is a real appetite for the upgrade among rural users. We do not want them to be left behind.

As to why the figures are so low, Mr Brown commented:

Such low figures are due to the lack of publicity around the programme. The council are only now producing a leaflet publicising the need to register.

However I am urging the council, the Scottish Government and BT to do more to promote the fact that people need to register their interest.

Dr Murray added:

The more people who register, the more chance we have of being one of the first areas for roll-out. Registering your interest will demonstrate to the Scottish Government and the commercial suppliers that there is sufficient demand for better broadband across Dumfries and Galloway. Improving our broadband infrastructure will bring benefits both for communities and businesses.

For communities, it will allow many community groups also use the web to keep members informed and involved as well as improving access to local services. For businesses, it will allow them to expand and develop. If we can be one of the first regions to get fibre optic broadband it will improve our chances of attracting new businesses to the region which will bring new jobs.

In these tough economic times, we need every investment and infrastructure improvement we can get.

ENDS

Notes to the editor:
An important part of achieving fibre broadband in communities is the demand registration process. Although this does not determine if a community is included in the roll out, it does affect the timescale. Therefore the more people from a community who register, the quicker it is likely to be for that community to benefit.

At present the number of registrations in many communities in Dumfries and Galloway is particularly low. The current registration levels in the region can be seen at http://southofscotland.org/index.aspx?articleid=12601

The Scottish Government anticipates their Infrastructure rollout will reach approximately 75% coverage per Local Authority area. Both Dumfries & Galloway Council and Scottish Borders Council have approved additional monies of up to 21m to support this rollout.

Based on current calculations provided by the Scottish Government, it is anticipated that this additional funding will increase the coverage in both Local Authority areas from 75% to approximately 85%. This cannot be confirmed until discussions are held with the appointed supplier at the end of the Scottish Government Procurement Process.

It will not be possible to fund 100% coverage across the South of Scotland with the public sector funding available. However, once the SoS Broadband Project Team know which areas will be covered, the Team will work in partnership with the Communities Broadband Scotland (CBS) officer to liaise with the communities that lie in the final 15%, to identify potential sources of funding, to deliver a suitable solution that will build back into the National Infrastructure Rollout.

It is hoped that through this work, 100% coverage of at least 2 mbps will be achieved across the South of Scotland.

Attached response maps for both Dumfries and Galloway and the Scottish Borders

For further information contact Nathan McHardy 07462 933134

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