R100 (Reaching 100%) is the Scottish Government’s programme to deliver Broadband to the whole of Scotland. Although this issue is actually a power reserved to the UK Government, it is so important that lack of action several years ago resulted in the Scottish Government taking action.
The R100 programme is divided into 3 areas: North, South and Central and with BT Plc being the only bidder for the Central and South, it has been confirmed as the bidder for those areas. The preferred bidder for the North (which includes Orkney) has not yet been announced as there was more than one bidder for that area.
Paul Wheelhouse,Scotland Government Minister for Connectivity and the Islands, said:
“Our £600 million R100 programme is a vital investment in Scotland’s infrastructure, given that the UK-wide telecommunications market has failed to deliver coverage to large areas of Scotland.
“Our commitment is despite regulation and legislation for telecommunications being reserved matters that are the responsibility of UK Ministers and this commitment is unmatched anywhere else in the UK.
Orkney MSP, Liam McArthur, Liberal Democrat, has hit out at the Scottish Government over the provision of Broadband in the islands.
“People and businesses in Orkney are fed up of inadequate broadband speeds and of the uncertainty around when they will see any improvements. Despite the Minister’s assurances, the reality is that Orkney still has one of the lowest coverage rates for broadband anywhere in the country.
“Audit Scotland made clear last year that a clear timetable should have been set out by this stage if the government were serious about meeting their 2021 deadline. Instead, any reference to a deadline has been quietly dropped by Ministers in recent weeks.
“Vague statements referring to announcements in due course rather than specific time frames aren’t good enough. Indeed, they will sound ominously familiar to householders and businesses in Orkney that have been waiting for years to get access to the high speed broadband they need.”
Local MSP Rhoda Grant, Labour, has also criticised the Scottish Government for not having yet announced a bidder for the North.
“It is disappointing as the North arguably requires investment in connectivity before the central belt does. The market provides competitive broadband in the central belt however the same cannot be said in the North where we have some of the lowest broadband connections in the country.
“I will continue to press the Minister to proceed with awarding the North contract as soon as is practicably possible.”
Paul Wheelhouse confirmed that more than one bid had been made for the North but that an announcement would be made over the coming months.
“The Scottish Government has committed £579 million, or 96.5%, to the total cost of the programme, even though broadband is a UK Government responsibility. The UK Government will contribute just £21 million, or 3.5%, despite the Commons Scottish Affairs Select Committee suggesting UK Ministers should contribute more.”
Ofcom published its Connected Nations updated report in September. Click on the link to the full report: Connected Nations update
Fixed Broadband coverage for May 2019 in the UK
For mobile services there are still many areas across the UK where there is no provider of 4G.
- England: 2%
- Northern Ireland: 3%
- Scotland: 20%
- Wales: 10%
This week Orkney Islands Council announced its intention to bid for 5G projects. OIC in Bid for 5G Project Developments
Reporter: Fiona Grahame