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[ 07-04-2010 ]

A lack of adequate broadband connectivity in Scotland is a barrier to future business growth.  That is the message from Scottish Chambers of Commerce, as politicians at Westminster abandon plans for a 50p broadband levy before the General Election campaign.  A lack of universal broadband coverage and slow data speeds are denying Scottish businesses the opportunity to compete on a level playing field with businesses in other parts of the world.  Liz Cameron, Chief Executive of Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said:

“Online connectivity is an increasingly vital utility for business.  Whether it is for sales and bookings, teleconferencing, access to market intelligence or remote working, the uses of broadband telecommunications are wide and varied and essential to doing business in the modern world.  That is why Government must make the universal roll-out of fast broadband access a priority for the next four years.
“The decision to scrap plans for a 50p landline levy to help fund this ambition was not unexpected during the political horse-trading as Westminster winds up for an election campaign, but this must come back onto the agenda as soon as the next Parliament convenes.  Research from Cisco and Oxford University shows that the UK is only 25th out of 66 nations in terms of the quality and reach of our broadband, with an average download speed of just 4.1Mbps.  This study also indicated that a speed of at least 11.25Mbps would be necessary by 2014 if we are to be able to cope with future connectivity needs.  We therefore need to move fast, as competitor nations in Scandinavia and the far east are already enjoying speeds of 100Mbps and beyond.
“The availability and speed of our digital communications will increasingly become a key factor in fostering and retaining businesses, and in attracting new investment to Scotland.  We need to secure the best possible competitive advantage over rival economies, and that means investing in high speed, high quality broadband links across the whole of Scotland, not just our cities.  If we are to meet this challenge, then we need a stronger partnership between the public and private sectors to leverage the necessary investment.  We simply cannot afford to be left behind as the rest of the world moves forward.”