COMMONS

Aberdeen hosts discussion about mobile and broadband

05 February 2018

The Scottish Affairs Committee hears from community groups, local authorities and business representatives as it continues its Digital Connectivity in Scotland inquiry with an evidence session at the University of Aberdeen.

Only 40% 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.

In the second session of its inquiry, the Committee will hear about current broadband and mobile coverage in Scotland, and the impact this has on the rural economy, local communities and businesses. The Committee will also look at the role of local authorities in supporting broadband delivery. 

Witnesses

Monday 5 February 2018, University of Aberdeen

From 10.30am - Community groups

  • Amanda Burgauer, Chair, Scottish Rural Action
  • Callum Hay, Acting Chairperson, Borders Community Broadband
  • Alison MacLeod, Local Development Officer, Applecross Community Company

From 11.15am - Local authorities

  • Councillor Margaret Davidson, Leader of Highland Council
  • Robert Emmott, Director of Finance at Comhairle nan Eliean Siar and Member of Infrastructure Action Plan Portfolio Board
  • Simon Haston, Head of IT, Aberdeen City Council
  • Councillor Steven Heddle, Chair of the Environment and Economy Board, COSLA

From 12 noon - Business representatives

  • Hugh Aitken, Former Regional Director, CBI Scotland
  • Stuart Mackinnon, External Affairs Manager – Scotland, Federation of Small Businesses
  • Charandeep Singh, Head of External Relations, Scottish Chambers of Commerce 

Chair's comments

Committee Chair Pete Wishart said:

"In the first session of our inquiry examining digital connectivity, we heard from a range of consumer groups, technology and policy experts about current levels of broadband and mobile availability in Scotland, and how barriers to greater coverage might be overcome.

We look forward to visiting Aberdeen to continue our examination of the issues involved, particularly the impact that slow speeds and poor mobile coverage have on rural communities, and Scottish businesses.

We will also explore the role of local authorities and community projects, and what partnerships might be developed to address these challenges."

Further information

Image: iStockphoto

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