Alan Reid MP for Argyll and Bute and his fellow Highlands and Islands Liberal Democrat MP Charles Kennedy today (Tuesday) met with senior BT personnel to raise ongoing issues concerning poor local broadband connectivity. BT has been awarded multi million pound contracts to deliver superfast broadband to rural Britain. Mr Reid and Mr Kennedy expressed concern that there was a lack of clarity about which communities would benefit from the extension of BT’s fibre optic cable network.
Alan Reid said afterwards: “From what BT told us it’s clear that this Government investment will mean 85 per cent of premises in the Highlands and Islands will get state-of-the-art superfast broadband over the next two years.
“This is great news for that 85 per cent, but we want to make sure that superfast broadband reaches 100 per cent of our constituents.
“We will be having a further meeting with HIE (Highlands and Islands Enterprise) and BT very soon to pin them down on which communities will be reached by the new BT superfast broadband network, and ensure that solutions such as wireless or satellite are put in place to bring superfast broadband to the 15% who won’t be reached by the fibre optic cables.
Both MPs had also raised their constituents’ concerns regarding broadband issues with the UK Government during Scottish Questions on 14 January. The exchange in the House of Commons addressed the need for both transparency and an updated and realistic timetable of delivery on upgrades across the Highlands and Islands.
Between them, Mr Reid and Mr Kennedy have collected hundreds of petition signatures calling for action. On Tuesday they met Clova Fyfe, Head of Parliamentary Affairs for BT Group Communications and Bill Murphy, Managing Director of BT Group Next Generation Access.