The SNP Scottish Government has committed to ensuring that 100% of homes and business premises in Scotland have access to superfast broadband by 2021. My colleagues in the SNP Scottish Government are also investing in the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband programme to extend superfast broadband into areas which are not being reached by the market alone – particularly rural and remote parts Scotland.
Our £410m Digital Broadband Scotland programme has already delivered broadband to 85% of premises in Scotland, and is on track to ensure 95% of premises – both homes and businesses – have access to broadband by the end of 2017. In the last three months, 35,000 premises have been reached by the roll-out, many of which are in rural locations across Scotland. The SNP Scottish Government will use innovative schemes, new technologies and provide financial backing to deliver broadband to the remaining 5% of homes and businesses over the next Parliament.
In respect of Ofcom’s recommendations for Openreach, I am aware that Ofcom has already proposed a series of changes – including requiring Openreach to give rivals better access to its network, tougher minimum service requirements and better information sharing. Ofcom stress that their aim is for Openreach to act more independently from BT Group, and to take decisions for the good of the wider telecoms industry. If this cannot be achieved, Ofcom will reconsider whether BT and Openreach should be split into two entirely separate companies.
I strongly welcome the focus on ensuring a step change in quality of service, including the commitment to introduce tougher minimum standards for Openreach with rigorous enforcement and fines for underperformance. Ofcom’s Strategic Review has resulted in a number of other measures aimed at improving rural connectivity and my colleagues in the Scottish Government remain committed to working with Ofcom to ensure that these drive positive outcomes in Scotland, particularly around coverage.