COMMONS

Experts and consumer groups discuss mobile and broadband coverage

23 January 2018

The Scottish Affairs Committee talks to experts and consumer groups about mobile and broadband coverage in the first Digital Connectivity in Scotland evidence session.

Only 40% of Scotland covered by all mobile operators

Digital connectivity has become an essential part of modern life. It is now considered an important everyday utility and a key driver of economic growth. The UK and Scottish Governments have both said they are committed to ensuring digital connectivity across Scotland through their respective digital policies.

Ofcom's latest figures show that Scotland's mobile and broadband coverage has increased in recent years, but there are still 6% of premises which struggle to get 10 Mbps download speeds and only 40% of Scotland’s landmass is covered by all mobile phone operators.

The Committee will examine the current state of digital connectivity in Scotland, exploring what good coverage looks like for the consumer and how it can be delivered. They will hear from technology experts about barriers to improving broadband and mobile coverage, considering how these challenges can be overcome. Rural broadband experts will also provide insight into connectivity in the hard to reach areas of Scotland.   

Witnesses

Tuesday 23 January, Committee Room 8, Palace of Westminster

From 9.45am - Coverage experts and consumer groups

  • Andrew Ferguson, Editor-in-Chief and Software Developer, ThinkBroadband
  • Brendan Gill, CEO, Open Signal
  • Pete Moorey, Director of Advocacy and Public Affairs, Which? 

From 10.45am - Technology and policy experts

  • Professor Will Stewart, Optoelectonics Research Centre, University of Southampton and Chair of the IET's Communications Policy Panel
  • Ewan Sutherland, Independent Telecommunications Policy Analyst
  • Professor Rahim Tafazolli, Director of Institute for Communication Systems and 5GIC at University of Surrey

From 11.45am - Academics specialising in rural broadband provision

  • Dr Gary Bosworth, Head of the Rural Research Group and Deputy Head of the School of Geography, University of Lincoln
  • Dr Lorna Philip, Senior Lecturer, Geography and Environment and Deputy Head of School of Geosciences, University of Aberdeen
  • Professor Sarah Skerratt, Professor of Rural Society and Policy, FRSA and Director, Rural Policy Centre, Scotland's Rural College (SRUC)

Chair's comments

Committee Chair Pete Wishart said:

"Superfast broadband and mobile phone signal are vital for the development and growth of Scotland's society and economy. There are many challenges in ensuring that broadband is fully available to everyone in Scotland, at download speeds at the cutting edge of what is available. We want to explore the issues involved and assess progress in ensuring that targets are being met and Scotland is fully connected.  
 
In this opening session, we will hear from a range of consumer groups, technology and policy experts, and academics working in this area. We look forward to exploring the barriers to greater coverage, and how the UK and Scottish Governments can work together to overcome them."

Further information

Image: iStockphoto

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