Half of Scots surveyed want better broadband, finds Fix Britain’s Internet

Fifty-six per cent of those polled say that fixing Britain’s internet should be among the Government’s top two priorities 

Fifty-six per cent of people surveyed in Scotland say that upgrading Britain’s broadband network should be an infrastructure priority for the Government BEFORE a new runway for an airport in the south east of England, HS2 and Hinkley Point C.
At least one in five still think their internet connection isn’t fast or reliable enough for current needs, with more than 36% thinking their internet connection might not be able to meet future needs, such as using devices which require more bandwith, according to the ComRes survey, which polled 2,000 British adults.

According to Vodafone, this fear of losing out on the future benefits of having decent broadband may help to explain why 56% of those surveyed in Scotland say that upgrading the broadband network should be among the Government’s top two priorities.
Earlier this week it was revealed that Sharon White, CEO of Ofcom, had so far received more than 6,700 responses from people in Scotland to the consultation into major reforms of Openreach (the network division of BT). This is around 14% of the more than 75,000 people who have so far had their say – one of the largest public responses to an Ofcom consultation ever recorded.
This latest research is part of the nationwide campaign to ‘Fix Britain’s Internet’, which is calling for fast, reliable broadband for everyone.  Sharing the concerns of the millions of people across the country  who still feel they are limited by poor internet, the campaign partners – Sky, TalkTalk, Vodafone and FCS – have said they want to bring better internet connectivity to British communities and help future-proof the UK’s digital economy.
Over the next 20 years, nearly 55% of those surveyed in Scotland expect their broadband usage to increase – placing their predictions of its growth significantly above that of roads (32%), airports (34%) and energy use (34%). This is in light of amove towards smart-homes, cloud based storage and more data heavy applications. Ultimately, the research demonstrated a call for broadband to be moved higher up the Government’s priority list over the next few years.
Ian Blackford, MP for Ross, Skye and Lochaber, said: “The figures speak for themselves.  Not having a high speed broadband connection or no connection at all in some cases, is just not acceptable these days.
“It is vitally important to invest in rollout of broadband and better mobile phone services to a much wider area, especially in the Highlands where public transport links may be sparse for rural and remote communities.
“Many services are also concentrating more on their online presence, Government Departments being no exception with people being encouraged to deal with income tax, vehicle licencing and national insurance online, rather than dealing directly with a person.
“There are also a range of Micro businesses and home workers in the Highlands whom I know get frustrated by poor internet and mobile signal.  We need these people and these businesses to maintain the local economy, especially in rural areas. It is a matter of fact that anyone or any business without access to reliable broadband is at a disadvantage to those who have.
“I welcome any moves to address and correct this situation and will certainly work closely with them to achieve maximum coverage.”
SNP Spokesperson for Digital Calum Kerr MP said: “These findings are a timely reminder that connectivity, especially in a country with a low-population density like Scotland, is widely recognised as an absolutely vital building block for the future. In contrast, the overpriced vanity projects that this government favours clearly alienate large numbers of people in Scotland who will never benefit from them.
“This is why I’ll be putting pressure on the government to up its game on the forthcoming Digital Economy Bill. Currently, this piece of legislation is an example of the lack of ambition and vision from the UK government on creating future-proofed UK-wide digital infrastructure.
“Significantly, this study also flags anxiety amongst consumers that broadband in the UK will fall behind, as more and more aspects of people’s lives move online. It’s likely that the government’s commitment to a Universal Service Obligation of 10 Megabits per second will easily fall short of consumer and industry expectations by 2020.
“I’ll be calling on the UK government to match the SNP’s commitment to deliver universal access to superfast broadband by 2021 and to put in place steps towards sustainable long term solutions – to push fibre further and get the optimum regulatory environment to incentivise connectivity.
“Nothing short of a re-ordering of the government’s approach to digital will create that first class infrastructure that all consumers, regardless of geography or income, deserve and increasingly need to fully participate in society.”
Sarah Lee, head of policy at the Countryside Alliance, said: “Far from being a secondary issue investing in rural broadband should be central to the Government’s vision for rural Britain. These polling results from Fix Britain’s Internet confirm what we already know about the importance that rural families place on investment in better broadband infrastructure.
 “It is vital that going forward the Government has in place a coherent strategy for delivering connectivity to the final 5 per cent. Achieving full connectivity will finally allow rural communities to achieve their full economic potential.
“This will only happen with a more competitive broadband market.”

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