Broadband (Speed Target)

– in the Scottish Parliament on 3rd February 2011.

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Photo of Andy Kerr Andy Kerr Labour

2. To ask the Scottish Executive what representations have been made to the United Kingdom Government regarding the postponement of the minimum broadband speed target of 2 megabits per second from 2012 to 2015. (S3O-12875)

Photo of Jim Mather Jim Mather Scottish National Party

As I informed Mr Kerr earlier today, the Minister for Culture and External Affairs and I met Ed Vaizey, the UK Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries, this morning to discuss our respective Governments’ broadband strategies. I am pleased to say that the UK Government’s universal service commitment was on the agenda for discussion. The meeting was part of the wider work that the Scottish Government is undertaking with the UK Government to ensure that action that is taken in Scotland under our forthcoming digital strategy, which will be published in the next few weeks, builds on and adds value to the work that is taking place at the UK level. Our new target for broadband coverage is availability of next generation broadband for all by 2020, with significant progress to be made by 2015.

Photo of Andy Kerr Andy Kerr Labour

I am pleased that my question prompted such a meeting to take place this morning and I appreciate what the minister has done. When countries around the world are aspiring to higher broadband speed, I hope that it is within the gift of the Government and the industry, which is a key partner, to deliver the minimum speed of 2 megabits per second. It is therefore disappointing to look around our constituencies—and my constituency is no different—and see broadband slow spots, such as those in Lindsayfield and Stewartfield in East Kilbride. What more can the Government do with the outcome of this morning’s meeting to ensure that people have access to reliable broadband at the speeds that match their needs?

Photo of Jim Mather Jim Mather Scottish National Party

We are continuing to press on all fronts. The message that we got from Ed Vaizey today was very much that the UK Government is looking to ensure that we have improved infrastructure as part of the move to a speed of 2 megabits per second. The member makes a telling point about broadband coverage across Scotland. We also made sure that the point was well understood that we do not want to pay twice for our broadband, and that the 95, 96 or 98 per cent coverage of the UK should also be of the component parts of the UK.