Joan McAlpine MSP has welcomed the commitment by Nicola Sturgeon to ensure every single premises in Scotland has broadband by the end of the next parliament.
Ms McAlpine said it was welcome news for those parts of Dumfriesshire which were particularly hard to reach. The First Minister made the announcement in her speech to the SNP party conference on Saturday.
Broadband, like all telecommunications matters, is an responsibility reserved to the UK Government. However the Scottish Government has had to step in where Westminster has failed to deliver.
Ms McAlpine said:
“Westminster could force providers to have 100% coverage of Scotland, but they don’t do that. That is why the SNP, together with local authorities, has come together to bridge the gap.
“Our project Digital Scotland has made real progress and communities all over Dumfriesshire are beginning to see the benefits. But even with an existing target of 95% coverage of premises by 2017, the last 5% of rural Scotland does cover a very large area.
“So I was delighted today when Ms Sturgeon announced in her conference speech that 100% of Scotland would be covered by 2020, it shows that the SNP is delivering for rural Scotland even when Westminster reneges on its responsibilities.
“The SNP isn’t just stronger for Scotland, it’s stronger for rural Scotland.”
The SNP is also stepping into areas where Westminster has failed to force mobile operators to provide phone coverage.
The SNP has long argued that Westminster should enforce a universal service obligation on mobile phone companies as a condition of their licence – but successive UK Governments have failed to do this. This allows phone companies to cherry pick the more profitable urban areas.
Now SNP ministers has stepped in to make good this failure.
This week the Transport Minister Derek Mackay also launched a scheme to expand mobile telephone coverage in rural areas as part of a pilot in three areas within Arran and the Cairngorms.
Ms McAlpine said: “If this pilot is successful it might offer a solution to parts of Southern Scotland blighted by Not Spots.”