Broadband delay threatens to keep Highlands and Islands in “digital stone age”

The Highlands and Islands risk being left behind other parts of the country as legal problems threaten the roll-out of superfast broadband to the region.

Shadow Finance Secretary Donald Cameron has warned the SNP Government that any further delay in the R100 programme risks keeping some parts of the region in “the digital stone age.”

Mr Cameron, a Highlands and Islands MSP, said: “My region is facing an enormous challenge  in recovering from the coronavirus pandemic and decent and reliable connectivity is indispensable to local residents and businesses who will lead our recovery."

“Unfortunately, as we have seen with the ferry fiasco, major infrastructure projects are not safe in the hands of SNP ministers. They need to get a firm grip on this project and ensure that it  will be delivered no later than promised."

“It is intolerable that communities are at risk of being kept in a digital stone age because of disputes of this kind.”


The biggest slice of the R100 programme, the £384m North area contract covering 100,000 premises in the Highlands and Islands, Angus, Aberdeen and Dundee, remains up in the air following a legal challenge.

After ministers announced BT was also the preferred bidder for the North Lot, the decision was challenged by a rival bidder, Oxfordshire-based rural broadband specialists Gigaclear Ltd.

Energy minister Paul Wheelhouse told MSPs about the challenge in December, and later said that until it was resolved the contract was “on hold”, and the government could not discuss what it might ultimately deliver.

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