Campaign backing

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Local politicians have backed calls to improve broadband connections in Deeside and Donside.

Last week, the Piper revealed that a website has been launched to encourage broadband users to describe the problems they are encountering when going online in rural areas.

West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine MP Sir Robert Smith and Dennis Robertson, MSP for Aberdeenshire West both agree that better connectivity is crucial for the area.

Last week, Sir Robert called for a parliamentary debate on the roll out of superfast broadband. 

He said: “The North-east has a higher than average take-up of broadband and it is important to build on that demand.

“The Government should also recognise that those areas that didn’t benefit the last time round should not be left behind again.”

Sir Robert has highlighted the need for increased investment in broadband and added his support to the campaign to improve connectivity in the Midmar area.

Sir Robert and Gordon MP Malcolm Bruce also met with BT in Westminster last week to make the case for the North-east as part of BT’s Next Generation Access programme.

During the meeting BT discussed their ambition for delivering broadband throughout Scotland while both MPs spoke favourably of the work Aberdeen City and Shire have been doing to attract broadband investment to the area.

Citing the readiness and interest in the uptake of improved broadband services in both the City and the Shire, the MPs welcomed the £68.8million allocated to Scotland to bring the next generation of broadband to those areas that are missing out on the current investment by BT.

Sir Robert said: “Last week’s report in the Piper rightly highlighted the importance of good broadband connections to rural communities.

“I want to hear from any constituents who are suffering from poor or non-existent access to the internet so I can continue to take up this issue.”

Dennis Robertson described digital connectivity as an “essential component” in successful and sustainable rural communities and said he was working on funding to be made available across the area.

“We need modern digital connectivity across rural Aberdeenshire for our farmers, our schools, our rural businesses and for all households. The reality is that too many parts of rural Scotland still have little or no broadband coverage.

“The Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure and Capital Investment Alex Neil MSP assured me that the Scottish Government’s Digital Strategy commitment – that next generation broadband will be available by 2020 and significant progress will be made by 2015 – applies to all parts of Scotland and that he would be giving a high priority to areas that are poorly serviced by today’s technology, including rural Aberdeenshire.”

Moira Gash, chair of the Federation of Small Businesses Deeside branch, believes companies could be put off using the area as a base due to poor connectivity.

She said: “Good broadband coverage, together with higher speeds, are critical to rural businesses and their communities.

“Some of our local members have already voiced concern that the lack of provision could put their future business at risk.”

Sarah Harker, the owner of the Butterworth Gallery in Ballogie, suffers connection problems on a regular basis.

She said: “It affects both the business and family life. I am heavily reliant on correspondence but I also use online services for shopping and various other things.

“The connection is very slow and sometimes it goes altogether, especially when the children come home from school.

“I’m glad to hear that the issue has been raised and hopefully improvements are made sooner rather than later.”