For Immediate Use
SNP MSP for the Highlands and Islands Rob Gibson has welcomed a commitment by the UK Government to introduce a Universal Service Obligation (USO) for broadband.
In October Mr Gibson launched a consultation throughout the Highlands and Islands on the issue of broadband access in remote and rural communities. Following upon thousands of responses, he will be presenting a report to Ministers as well as to the major UK broadband providers detailing the views of his constituents.
Mr Gibson said:
"Broadband is the communications highway for the twenty-first century and this announcement is a step in the right direction.
"The main response I received on my consultation from thousands of Highland constituents was their frustration over paying the same price as someone in the central belt but receiving a second-rate service. This reach issue must quickly become a thing of the past.
"The Scottish Government has done excellent work in bringing broadband to rural communities but there remain several areas which cannot receive services, or only receive it at a very slow rate.
"Much more has to be done, however, to ensure that every home and business has access to a faster speed and this will require significant investment. Right now, Scotland and the UK is lagging behind in the provision of fibre optics.
"The Scottish and UK Governments have both confirmed the great stimulus that competitive broadband provisions can add to economies through community businesses and international trade. In this time of recession it is all the more vital that we give our communities the tools they need to not only get through it but come out of it stronger.