While the responsibility for Scotland’s broadband is reserved to the UK Tory Government, their lack of financial support has forced the SNP Government to invest in the Digital Scotland Reaching 100% (R100) programme, ensuring every home and business in Cunninghame North and beyond has superfast broadband access by 2023.
While the Tories contributed only £21 million to this crucial investment, the SNP Government is investing £579 million (96.5%) of the £600 million required.
This means we have less funding for the things that are devolved, such as education, local government and transport. Then the Tories come to the chamber and demand we do more with less. It’s a political game designed to stifle Scotland, and one we wouldn’t have to play if we were independent.
So apart from the need to ensure pandemic recovery and hold another independence referendum, here are seven reasons to make it #BothVotesSNP for a superfast Cunninghame North:
According to the latest coverage figures from Thinkbroadband, 97% properties in North Ayrshire are now connected to superfast broadband – a 56.1% rise from 2014 when only 40.9% properties were connected to internet speeds of at least 30Mbps. Had it been left to the UK Tory Government, only around 66%, and in some areas less than 30%, of premises would have had fibre access.
Thanks to the SNP Government’s Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband (DSSB) programme, more than 950,000 homes and businesses across Scotland are now able to access fibre broadband services.
More people in Scotland are able to access superfast gigabit capable download speeds than in rest of the UK. Ofcom’s Connected Nations: 2020 report found that Scotland has 42% coverage of gigabit capable broadband, compared with 27% of the UK.
A re-elected SNP Government will continue its Scottish Broadband Voucher Scheme, which provides funding of up to £5,000 to help homes and businesses obtain superfast broadband in areas where providers would not otherwise invest.
We will amend planning and building regulations so that digital connectivity is treated as an essential utility, like energy and water, and is standard in all new housing developments. We will extend the current 10 year rates relief on new fibre broadband investment for 5 more years.
Widespread mobile connectivity is every bit as vital as superfast broadband for a world class digital Scotland. Although telecoms remains reserved, the SNP Government’s work to achieve improved mobile connectivity is important to Scotland – socially, economically and in terms of local resilience. That’s why the SNP Government agreed a Mobile Action Plan with the UK's four main mobile operators which is the first of its kind in the UK, a collaboration with industry to improve mobile connectivity.
The SNP Government’s £25 million Scottish 4G Infill programme is delivering 4G infrastructure and services in so-called ‘not-spots’ in rural Scotland, providing connectivity to areas which previously had no coverage.
According to a report by the Centre for Economics and Business Research on behalf of Openreach, full fibre broadband networks could add £1,940 million to Scotland’s Gross Value Added income annually by enabling up to 76,000 more people to enter the workforce from home.
To help achieve a superfast Cunninghame North, help ourselves and our local businesses to flourish, be sure to make it #BothVotesSNP this Thursday 06 May.