Ross-shire broadband shocker prompts fresh calls for action
The red on the map reveals the poor broadband performance experienced in much of Ross-shire
A ROSS-SHIRE parliamentary constituency has been revealed as having the lowest average broadband speeds in Scotland. Figures compiled by the House of Commons Library reveal that Ross, Skye and Lochaber has the poorest broadband speed in Scotland and is second lowest in the UK as a whole, ahead only of Carmarthen East, in Wales. The hard stats have been seized upon by the area’s MP, Ian Blackford, who is demanding action over an issue he says puts his constituents at a major disadvantage and effectively bars access to a number of services taen for granted by most people.
Compiled using data based on analysis of Ofcom’s postcode-level open data, the information was collected from major fixed telecoms operators (BT, Virgin Media, Sky, Talk Talk, Vodafone and KCOM). It also included coverage information provided by alternative network providers (Gigaclear, Hyperoptic, IFNL, B4RN and Relish). It indicates that 66 per cent of the constituency is unable to receive speeds of up to 10 megabits per second (Mbps), the minimum required to usefully access programs such as on-line banking or shopping websites, putting these users at a disadvantage. Ian Blackford said: “I have been in regular contact with senior BT officials for some time to remedy what constituents have been telling me on the issue of connectivity, or lack of it. I congratulate the House of Commons Library on compiling and collating this information, which underlines the case I have been making.
“A strong and fast internet connection is more important than ever to people throughout this constituency, especially in more remote areas with poor or no public transport links and those trying to run a business or access the new Universal Credit website.
Ian Blackford MP: ‘We must find a solution’
“I have hosted meetings in the constituency with senior BT managers and engineers who are looking at the roll-out of new technologies which could have wide-ranging benefits. We must find a solution to this situation as soon as possible”. This has already created problems for people on the Universal Credit, benefits which requires claimants to use their website to make claims, fill in journals and keep their records up to date. Even more users will be adversely affected by poor internet connection when it rolls out across Ross, Skye and Lochaber from July, the MP warns.
Across the UK, the report shows that the average connection speed is 37.8 Mbps, while in Ross, Skye and Lochaber it is just 14.4 Mbps. Only 13 per cent of constituents can access superfast (30Mbps+) connections, compared with 41 per cent across the UK. The report concludes: “The 66 per cent of connections receiving slower speeds (under 10 Mbps) is higher than any other constituency”.
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