Rural Scotland beset by slower UK broadband speeds

The latest research from Compare the Market, which looked at the extent of broadband download and upload speeds across the UK, found that local authorities in the Orkney Islands, Shetland Islands, Argyll and Bute, Nah-Eileanan Siar and Highland had the poorest broadband. download fees.

Specifically, Orkney Islands residents and businesses had access to an average download speed of 41 Megabits per second (Mbit/s), the slowest in the UK, followed by Shetland Islands’ 43.3 Mbit/s, the 46.3 Mbit of Argyll and Bute. /s, 48.5 Mbit/s from Na h-Eileanan Siar and 50.7 Mbit/s from Highland.

On the other side of the spectrum, the English city of Hull was found to have the fastest average broadband download speed at 228.4 Mbit/s.

The results of the latest Compare the Market findings come as work continues to connect rural areas of Scotland with better internet speeds and access.

In 2021, the Scottish Government committed to the R100 (“Reaching 100%)” infrastructure programme, which aims to enable all homes and businesses in Scotland to have access to ultra-fast broadband speeds and at least 30 megabit speeds per second. .

Contracts for the program were awarded to BT, the multinational telecommunications giant. Due to current global supply chain issues, R100 contracts are estimated to be completed in 2028.

In addition to R100, other initiatives are underway including Project Gigabit, the UK government’s flagship program to connect hard-to-reach communities with fast broadband, and the Shared Rural Network, which aims to bring 4G coverage to 95% of the UK. improve digital accessibility and connectivity for people who live and work in the most isolated parts of the country.

On the Compare the Market findings, Liz Cameron, chief executive of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce, told The Times: “It is clear that the provision of fibre, 4G and 5G broadband coverage in Scotland remains poor, that holds back business, particularly in many rural, remote and coastal areas of Scotland where provision often remains poor.

“The Scottish Government must deliver on the promises of the R100 scheme and ensure ultra-fast broadband connectivity to all homes and businesses in Scotland as a priority.

“Businesses need the government to do all they can to remove barriers to deployment, invest in deployment and work with providers to ensure all parts of Scotland receive the coverage and speeds they deserve.”

In April, DIGIT reported on research by the Small Business Federation on the impact of poor digital connectivity on rural businesses.

For example, almost a third (32%) of rural small businesses continue to report problems with their broadband, with only 17% of their urban counterparts saying the same.

In addition, the research revealed that twice as many rural businesses reported that unreliable broadband affected their ability to communicate with customers (14% vs. 6%), reduced the competitiveness of their business (11% vs. 5%), and led to a loss of business. or sales (10% vs 5%).


Richard Lochhead, Scotland’s Minister for Innovation, also commented on the findings, telling The Times: “Broadband is the responsibility of the UK government. Despite this, the Scottish Government’s R100 and Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband programs have already connected around a million properties across Scotland to faster broadband.

“We are investing over £600 million through R100 contracts, extending full fiber broadband access to some of the most difficult to reach rural communities in Scotland.

“The R100 program has delivered new full fiber submarine cables across Orkney and Shetland and onshore construction is underway. This is complex and will take time, yet it will provide future-proof connectivity for decades. In total, the R100 contracts are expected to connect more than 5,700 properties in Orkney and Shetland.

“A further 8,400 homes and businesses in Argyll and Bute will also benefit from faster broadband access through R100 contracts.”