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Broadband On Message Board

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Broadband Issues
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Written Question At Scottish Parliament 26 January 04
Nora Radcliffe (Gordon) (LD): To ask the Scottish Executive what percentage of households currently has access to a broadband internet connection. Mr Jim Wallace: Around 70% of Scottish households can now access a broadband internet connection. The Executive has therefore achieved its broadband access target and is currently considering measures to help take coverage beyond this figure. Nora Radcliffe (Gordon) (LD): To ask the Scottish Executive what support the public sector is providing to ensure that broadband internet services are available to households in remote and rural areas. Mr Jim Wallace: The provision of broadband services to all areas remains a commercial decision for suppliers related to demand. However, the Scottish Executive is supporting a range of initiatives to help bring broadband services to remote and rural areas. These include trials of alternative technologies such as wireless and powerline designed to assess the potential to provide broadband to areas where mainstream broadband technologies are not commercially viable. Furthermore, the Executive recently launched additional demand-stimulation measures under its 24 million broadband initiative. This activity, which includes a broadband business incentive and broadband marketing, is strengthening the commercial case for broadband provision across all areas of Scotland. Nora Radcliffe (Gordon) (LD): To ask the Scottish Executive whether it is utilising European structural funds for the development of broadband services. Mr Jim Wallace: The Scottish Executive is using European structural funds for the development of broadband services in Scotland and continues to assess funding opportunities for projects aimed at further increasing the availability of such services. Under the structural fund programmes 2000-06, the Scottish Executive has allocated over 12 million to date towards the development of broadband and related services in Scotland.

People living on the Island of Tiree and in Port Charlotte on Islay are celebrating reaching their BT set trigger levels for Broadband.

Locals in both communities have carried out a rigorous campaign to ensure the magic number of 100 registrations was reached. In less than three weeks, both exchanges went from having amongst the lowest level of registrations across Argyll to leading the field.

When BT announced it was setting trigger levels of 100 for Port Charlotte and Tiree, many people thought that the levels were too high for small, rural communities but both have risen to the challenge. Now both communities are waiting to hear when BT will install the necessary equipment to upgrade the exchanges and provide a Broadband service to customers.

Mark Jennison, Tiree development manager commented: "Tiree Community Business and the Tiree Development Partnership recently joined forces to run a community wide broadband campaign. This resulted in over 150 registrations of interest with over two-thirds in the area in which BT's ADSL service would be available.

"The community of Tiree is looking forward to seeing the establishment of a broadband service on the Island. Many individual enterprises realise the benefits that such a service will provide to their business, and the community is exploring ways in which the service could lead to new opportunities and enhanced ways of working." 

"The challenge now will be to extend the service out with the area available to ADSL to cover all corners of the island and to maximise any financial benefits directly to the local community."

Argyll and the Islands Enterprise (AIE) has also been a driving force behind the campaign to get people to sign up for Broadband. AIE's e-business advisor, Paul O'Brien said: "These two communities have done extremely well and we hope the other exchanges will follow their tremendous example."

Tiree and Port Charlotte are the first of 30 exchanges in Argyll to meet their set trigger levels and will soon join Oban as the only communities in the region with Broadband.  Other communities that have their targets in sight are Dunoon with 81 per cent achieved, Tobermory with 75 per cent and Taynuilt with 74 per cent of its required trigger level registrations.