Digital connectivity inquiry launched following suggestions from public

07 December 2017

The Scottish Affairs Committee has published its findings from the My Scottish Affairs inquiry and launched an inquiry into digital connectivity in Scotland.

The Scottish Affairs Committee launches an inquiry into broadband and mobile phone coverage in Scotland, exploring the quality of digital connectivity across the country.

Broadband and mobile phone coverage are essential services for businesses, communities and families. 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 are both committed to ensuring digital connectivity across Scotland. However, only 12% of Scotland is covered by all 4G network operators and a high proportion of rural areas have poor broadband coverage.

The Committee will explore the barriers to great coverage and consider how the UK and Scottish Governments can work with key industry stakeholders to overcome them.

The new inquiry is the first to be launched following the My Scottish Affairs inquiry, which invited the public to suggest issues that the Committee should investigate. Public meetings were held in Selkirk and Inverness, and submissions were made through the Committee's website and on social media. Connectivity was seen as a key issue, especially in rural areas and for supporting small businesses. More information about My Scottish Affairs can be found here and the resulting Spark presentation can be viewed here.

Chair's comments

Announcing the inquiry, Chair of the Committee Pete Wishart MP said:

"The My Scottish Affairs has given the Committee a fantastic opportunity to hear directly from the people of Scotland about the issues that matter to them. As a Committee, we want to engage with the people of Scotland as frequently as possible.

As a result of this work we are pleased to announce our inquiry into digital connectivity in Scotland. Access to superfast broadband and mobile phone signal is vital for Scottish society to grow and develop. Through this inquiry, the Committee will examine the barriers and challenges to digital connectivity. In particular, we'll be focusing coverage in rural areas, where this has been a greater problem for businesses and local communities."

Call for written submissions

The Committee invites submissions on the following questions:

  • What level and standard of mobile and broadband coverage does Scotland need to achieve to maximise the economic and social benefits of greater connectivity? To what extent do current plans for the rollout of broadband and mobile coverage in Scotland meet these needs?
  • What are the barriers (economic, technical, regulatory, other) to delivering superfast broadband and improved mobile coverage in Scotland? What steps could be taken overcome these challenges? 
  • Is the level of funding for broadband and mobile phone coverage in Scotland sufficient given the geographic and demographic challenges Scotland faces?
  • How well do the different stakeholders (UK Government, the Scottish Government, service providers) work together? Are there ways these relationships could be improved?
  • What technology options are available to increase connectivity in rural, and other hard to reach, areas of Scotland? What support is needed to develop and deliver these solutions?

Further information

Image: CC0 Creative Commons

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