RICS says parts of Scotland overlooked in broadband drive

Vital areas of Scotland are missing out on faster broadband because they are not included in the UK Broadband Delivery Programme, according to The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).

The organisation is calling on the UK Government to “address the oversight” that sees five per cent of the UK – including large parts of Scotland, Northern England and Northern Ireland – set to miss out on the UK Government’s pledge to roll out faster broadband across the country by 2018.

Key economic areas such as Aberdeenshire, as well as the north of England, are currently being blacklisted from the UK Broadband Delivery programme, according to RICS.

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Jeremy Blackburn, head of policy at RICS, called on the UK Government to use the Queen’s speech to introduce the “far too long awaited” Communication’s Bill.

He said: “Broadband has now become the fourth utility and is as important to running an effective business as electricity and water.

“We know that increased availability of faster broadband speeds will add about £17bn to the UK’s annual Gross Value Added (GVA) by 2024.

“But unless things change, we will create a two-tier nation, in which vital areas of Scotland, northern England and Northern Ireland are missing out.

“This ‘fourth’ utility is currently governed by the Electronic Communications Code, a code developed during the early days of mobile networks during the 1980s. It’s about 30 years out of date.

“We would urge Government to use the Queen’s speech to ensure that it is properly updated and implemented so that disputes between landowners, agents and telecoms operators are avoided – allowing broadband delivery to all communities wherever their geographical location.”

Blackburn added that while there is “undoubtedly” a north/south divide, there is “arguably” also a rural/urban divide.

“The UK rural economy is central to our GDP – even those industry’s that are not perceived to be office-based are reliant on emerging technologies in order to access the supply chain.

“At a time when rural poverty is a growing threat, we cannot risk putting rural businesses in jeopardy,” he said.

Colin Marrs

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