Category: Fife

Reference Library – Scotland – Fife Broadband

Broadband postcode lottery anger as Angus rural residents are left in the cold 0

Broadband postcode lottery anger as Angus rural residents are left in the cold

The “blatant inequality” of broadband coverage in Tayside has left people in rural Angus “feeling like second class citizens”. That’s the view of Lib Dem Ben Lawrie, ward member for Monifieth and Sidlaw, who hit out at the “postcode lottery” despite the Scottish Government’s aim for Scotland to become a “world class digital nation” by 2020. Mr Lawrie said it was important that rural communities are not left behind and wants the council to work with telecoms providers to improve the quality of coverage across the county to “an acceptable level for all residents”.

A survey carried out by Infogram from Jan-March this year showed that the average download speed was 14.5Mbs in Angus, compared to 28.7Mbs in Dundee. © DC Thomson Ben Lawrie. “It is frustrating to see this postcode lottery coverage,” said Mr Lawrie. “Our neighbours in Dundee are lucky to have the fastest average download speed in Scotland, amongst the fastest in the UK. “Meanwhile, here in Angus, fewer than 65% of premises can receive an average speed of more than 24Mbs. “The biggest gripe people seem to have is the blatant inequality of services. “People in rural areas often feel like second class citizens compared to residents in more busy areas. “They have poorer download speeds; they have poorer mobile phone coverage — in the 21st century people should all have equal access to these services no matter where they live.” Mr Lawrie campaigned with the Lib Dems on mobile phone and internet coverage in run up to the local elections. He said: “In these modern times, dependable and fast access to the internet is becoming ever more important. “We’re becoming more reliant on internet access for things like work, communicating with friends and family, online banking and shopping — even paying for our garden waste. “As the internet becomes more central to our everyday activities we need to make sure that rural areas are not left behind.” A council spokeswoman said broadband and mobile coverage “is essential for Angus companies and residents”. She said: “It is of vital importance to many aspects of an urban and rural life and economy. “That’s why Angus Council is investing in infrastructure to support our existing businesses and residents as well as attract investment, create jobs and help make Angus the best place to live and work. “In September our Business Angus Team are piloting a project to support digital connectivity for businesses in Angus who are not currently able to access superfast broadband. “The team are working to establish connectivity at two sites in Arbroath and Forfar which will also allow us to extend to support two local business parks as well as more rural businesses where infrastructure permits. “We hope that there may be opportunities to work with local businesses to ascertain whether this infrastructure can also assist with their digital connection needs. “It is recognised that this is a fundamental part of any business and Angus Council is committed to supporting the Scottish Government’s aim for Scotland to become a world class digital nation by 2020. “We are interested in hearing from businesses directly about the challenges of digital connectivity and opportunities that could support business growth.” Angus MP meets UK Minister to push local case Angus MP Kirstene Hair has met the UK Government’s Minister of State for Digital Matt Hancock MP to push the local case for improvements in broadband speeds.

Mr Hancock said the contracts to get broadband to Scotland were “signed more slowly than those for England and Wales”, and that was “because we devolved responsibility to the Scottish Government”.

Ms Hair said: “In my first few weeks as an MP, I have already been contacted by constituents with concerns about broadband speeds. “This is a very important issue for rural areas like Angus. “We are so reliant on broadband connections nowadays – not just for household use, but for local businesses and pupils studying in our schools. “Recent surveys have confirmed that the speeds that people are experiencing in Angus fall far below what is expected, and are way behind city areas including Dundee.” She continued: “I will continue to push for improvements in the Angus area to ensure that no-one is left behind.”

Bills rocket twice as fast as wages over past decade 0

Bills rocket twice as fast as wages over past decade

Basic household bills have increased by an average of 43 per cent in the last decade – more than double the rate of wage growth, a report has claimed. Bills for council tax, TV, phone, broadband, gas, water and electricity have increased by an average of 10 percentage points more than inflation over the past 10 years, according to figures analysed by Santander. The report found that gas and electricity are the biggest drivers of price increases, rising 73 per cent and 72 per cent respectively in the last decade, while water bills have increased by 41 per cent – all significantly higher than inflation at 32 per cent.

Council Tax has risen by 27 per cent and TV, phone and broadband prices have all risen by 24 per cent, albeit slower than inflation but still faster than wage growth of 19 per cent. In Scotland, bills account for 12.9 per cent of household income, just slightly below the UK average of 13.3 per cent. Scots spend an average of £504,796 on bills over a lifetime.

UK-wide, over the course of their lives, people will fork out an average £524,464 on bills, with those in London set to spend the most at £601,638, closely followed by people in the South East, where residents have to pay around £580,566. Matt Hall, head of banking and unsecured credit at Santander, said: “Households have been hit hard as the cost of bills and other goods continue to rise. With increased prices across a variety of key household items, families will be looking for ways to make their money go further.” He added: “There are a number of things people can do to reduce the cost of their household bills.

From installing home energy monitors to analysing their energy usage or changing their electricity supplier or mobile provider, people can save a small fortune.” Norman Kerr, director of Energy Action Scotland, said people worried about their energy bills should switch supplier.

He said: “Ten years ago energy prices were at a low and now they are outstripping inflation.

Gas and electricity are regulated fuels and it is important that regulation works to protect consumers. “The current level of energy prices underlines the need for the Scottish Government to redouble its efforts to make homes more energy efficient and to support people who live on very low incomes.”

Scottish areas have slowest broadband in UK, research claims 0

Scottish areas have slowest broadband in UK, research claims

Three Scottish local authority areas have been ranked the worst in the UK for broadband speeds, according to a consumer publication. The Orkney Islands finished at the foot of the table of 389 entries with an average test speed of just 6.3Mbps. The archipelago was followed by the Shetland Islands (8.4Mbps), with Highland (8.8Mbps) third from bottom.

Consumer publication Which? used data from its speed checker from January to March 2017 to show variations across the UK. Average tests in the locations fell short of 10Mbps, which experts say is necessary to meet the typical demands of a family or small business.

Alex Neill, Which? managing director of home services, said: “Far too many households across Scotland are suffering from slow broadband speeds, which can stop you being able to carry out essential daily tasks. “We are encouraging everyone with broadband to use our speed checker so people can see if they are getting the speeds that they’ve been promised by their provider and find out how to complain if their speed is too slow. “This will also help to further highlight where problem areas are across the UK, putting pressure on government and providers to help everyone get a good broadband connection.” At the other end of the scale, researchers found people in Dundee had the fastest average download speed (28.7Mbps) in Scotland and the fifth fastest in the UK. Glasgow and Edinburgh were ranked 193rd and 264th in the table.

A slow connection, experts say, can impact basic online tasks such as banking, shopping or streaming television programmes. The top five areas in the UK were Tamworth, Reading, Adur, Enfield and Dundee. The bottom five areas were Orkney Islands, Shetland Islands, Highland, Ryedale and Purbeck.

Orkney Islands Council leader James Stockan said: “The findings of this report are disappointing and show there is the very real risk that many areas of Orkney will miss out on successive generations of broadband, widening the digital divide and leaving some parts of our community with extremely poor connections or even no service at all.” Liberal Democrat MSP Mike Rumbles said the research showed rural communities are being left behind.

He added: “These levels of connectivity are woefully inadequate. “Despite new technologies being developed and speeds for some getting faster and faster, businesses and residents outside of our cities have too often been at the back of the queue for improvements.”