Northern Isles MP, Alistair Carmichael, has warned the government that they must not walk away from rural communities when rolling out broadband to all areas of the UK.
Mr Carmichael was speaking after the publication of a government consultation document on the definition of a universal service for broadband. The consultation document states that providing 100% coverage does not “represent value for money”.
Commenting, Mr Carmichael said:
“A Universal Service Obligation for broadband is a good idea, but they miss the point by trying to set it at less than 100 per cent provision. They also appear to have lost any sense of urgency as they do not anticipate having this in place until 2020. It is pretty clear that they have chosen to listen to the big telecoms companies rather than the communities concerned.
“Once you depart from 100% coverage alarm bells should always start ringing in the isles. Viewed from London or Edinburgh to talk about 95% may seem reasonable but in the isles past experience tells us that we are more likely to be part of the 5% that is left behind.
“Currently there are a million homes in rural areas of the country will not have access to the promised 10Mbps of broadband by 2017. Those “have-nots” in the unfortunate 5% who are deemed unable to receive broadband have just been abandoned by this government U-turn.
“Last week we saw the Conservatives attract significant support in rural Scotland. I wonder if those people who voted Tory in Perthshire, Aberdeenshire, the Borders and The Highlands realised that they were voting for this sort of treatment.”