New report highlights need for speed online in Borders

A new report reveals that almost one in 10 Borderers are forced to put up with broadband connections offering download speeds of less than 10 megabytes per second.

Thursday, 9th January 2020, 12:51 pm
Ofcom's Connected Nations 2019 report.

That’s more than twice the Scottish average of 4%.

The Office of Communications’ Connected Nations Report 2019 also shows that though 44% of internet users nationwide are getting speeds of over 300mb/s, known as ultrafast broadband, only 5% of Borderers are able to do likewise.

4G mobile connectivity also continues to be a problem, with just 42% of Scotland getting coverage from all the main operators.

Telecommunications legislation is reserved to the UK Government, but the Scottish Government is leading the practical delivery of broadband this side of the border, and Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk MP John Lamont is calling on the latter to take on board the region’s need for speed.

He said: “Poor broadband and mobile signal is one of the most common causes of complaints in the Borders, and rightly so.

“I have worked hard with a number of local communities to secure better rural broadband and have helped hundreds of individuals with broadband problems, but we need real change and fast.

“I welcome the ambitious targets of both the UK and Scottish governments to help rural areas, but what I am hearing from constituents is that they need action now to keep their businesses running efficiently and allow them to stay connected in their homes.

“I welcome that the UK Government’s chancellor has pledged £5bn to support the rollout of gigabit-capable broadband in the hardest-to-reach areas of the country, which will be supported by new legislation to accelerate its delivery to millions of homes.”

Christine Grahame, MSP for Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale, is also unhappy about the inadequate internet speeds some Borderers have to contend with but insists the Scottish Government is doing its utmost to assist them.

“I recognise the frustration and real issues that come from living or working in areas with slow internet connections,” she said.

“That is why, despite telecoms being a reserved matter, the Scottish Government will continue to build on the success of the £400m Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband programme, investing a further £600m to extend superfast broadband access to every home and business in Scotland.

“No other part of the UK is matching the Scottish Government’s ambition to provide 100% access to superfast broadband to all homes and businesses in Scotland.

“I’m aware that the minister for connectivity, Paul Wheelhouse, also an MSP for South Scotland himself, is making a ministerial statement on enhancing Scotland’s digital connectivity to parliament this afternoon.

“Whilst I’m not privy to the contents of this statement, I believe it will represent more good news for the Borders.”

Ofcom’s Connected Nations Report 2019 can be found at www.ofcom.org.uk/research-and-data/multi-sector-research/infrastructure-research/connected-nations-2019