3. To ask the Scottish Government what progress digital Scotland has made in providing 95 per cent superfast broadband coverage to communities by 2017. (S4O-05708)
The digital Scotland superfast broadband programme has delivered fibre broadband to more than 530,000 homes and businesses in Scotland and has met the initial coverage target of 85 per cent six months early. The programme remains on track to meet the 95 per cent target by the end of 2017.
The Scottish Government has given the commitment that, if we are returned to office in May, we will deliver 100 per cent superfast broadband coverage in the course of the next parliamentary session. Digital connectivity is essential to the ability of individuals and businesses to participate in our 21st century society. We have made significant progress, with the 85 per cent target being reached six months early, and we will work during the next session to ensure that every citizen in Scotland has access to the level of connectivity that is appropriate for 21st century Scotland.
The problem of exchange-only lines is being addressed as part of the roll-out of the superfast broadband programme. In countless communities around the country, the challenge of exchange-only lines has been addressed and the services have been delivered. They require a more complex solution that involves more complex engineering and is more resource intensive. That solution has been delivered across countless communities and is part of the Government’s on-going commitment to delivering the programme.
I welcome the decision to ensure that there is 100 per cent superfast broadband coverage by 2021. As the cabinet secretary will know, 97 per cent of Arran will have superfast broadband by the end of this summer. When will it be installed in Machrie, which makes up the remaining 3 per cent? Surely it makes sense for BT to cover the entire island in one go.
I am not surprised to hear that superfast broadband coverage in Arran will be at 97 per cent by the summer, given the tenacious efforts of the member of Parliament for Cunninghame North in pursuing the issue on his constituents’ behalf. I cannot give him a specific timetable for the community of Machrie, but I assure him that the challenges that must be overcome to deliver the service will be overcome as part of the roll-out of the Government’s programme.