Lib Dems dispute Humza Yousaf’s claim that superfast broadband is available to everyone in Scotland
The Lib Dems have called out First Minister Humza Yousaf for apparently unfounded claims that superfast broadband is available across Scotland.
Speaking at FMQs yesterday, Yousaf said, “all homes and business across Scotland” had access to a superfast broadband service and that the R100 – the rollout programme – was “going beyond that” to even faster speeds.
However, Ofcom data has shown some areas of Orkney still have no access to superfast availability while Compare the Market’s latest research also revealed that Orkney is home to the slowest broadband speeds in the UK.
Initially set to be concluded by 2021, legal challenges with contracts in northern areas delayed the R100 scheme deadline to 2028.
Following FMQs, Orkney Lib Dem MSP Liam McArthur has invited Yousaf to his constituency to “explain” to locals “what they’ve been doing wrong” to have poor or no access to the superfast broadband “apparently” available.
McArthur said: “The SNP originally promised superfast broadband to 100 per cent of homes and businesses by 2021. When that deadline came and went, ministers sought to blame the failure on everyone else, including Westminster.
“Now, it appears that the strategy of Humza Yousaf and his ministerial colleagues is simply to claim the target has been reached.
“Clearly there has been a simple misunderstanding. Given his comments at FMQs, I have invited the first minister on a tour of the islands where he can explain to local households and businesses how they can access the superfast broadband that apparently has now been delivered.”
Yousaf’s claim echoes a prior statement by business minister Richard Lochhead.
Responding to a similar query on a deadline for the completion of the R100 programme by Shetland Lib Dem MSP Beatrice Wishart last year, Lochhead said that thanks to a “combination of the R100 contracts, the R100 Scottish Broadband Voucher Scheme and the commercial broadband market”, all Scottish households and business could “access superfast broadband speeds of 30 Megabits per second”.
When contacted by Holyrood for comment, the Scottish Government said:
"All homes and businesses across Scotland can currently access a superfast broadband service – either through fixed, mobile or Low Earth Orbit satellite providers. The R100 contracts are going beyond that by extending access to gigabit-capable broadband – over 30 times faster than our original commitment.
"Our programme remains on track to complete build and ensure all contracted premises are connected by 2028. So far, over 36,100 premises have been connected, and the remainder will be phased in between now and 2028.
“The Scottish Government has prioritised investment in digital connectivity in the 2024-25 budget, recognising that it is a key building block for a green and growing economy.”