Leading on the Telecommunications (Security) Bill today for the Liberal Democrats, Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) spokesperson - Jamie Stone - criticised both the U.K. and Scottish Government for failing to deliver super-fast broadband to the Highlands.
The Bill introduces new controls on the use and rollout of 5G equipment. It also seeks to provide the Government with new national security powers to manage the risk of high-risk vendors such as Huawei as well as tighten controls on confidential customer data.
Mr Stone used the opportunity to reiterate calls to put the Highlands on an equal plane with the rest of the country when it comes to broadband connectivity. Currently, the region is seeing approximately 20% less broadband coverage than the UK average.
Following his speech, Mr Stone said:
"With every mention of '5G', I can imagine the eyes rolling across my constituency. The SNP pledged full connectivity and superfast broadband to all homes by 2021 yet most households in the Highlands haven't even got basic broadband connections, never mind superfast broadband and 5G.
“The Far North desperately needs broadband if it is to recover from the Covid crisis. We need private companies and businesses to see us as an option for investment, bringing new jobs and opportunities. We need the tourism and hospitality sector to be competing on a level playing field with the rest of the UK. But most of all, we need the UK and Scottish Governments to work together to ensure that rural areas are not further neglected as we emerge from this pandemic.
“That’s why I am calling for not only increased diversity of the UK's telecom supply chains, but also more Government investment in developing the telecommunications technology across the UK. Highlanders aren't interested in discussing 5G until we see the basics - 3 and 4G - properly rolled out to every home, as promised."