Sir Robert asks the questions on connectivity

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Sir Robert Smith MP has raised concerns in the House of Commons about North-east phone and broadband connectivity.

The Lib Dem called for the Scottish Government to deliver much needed improvements to the region.

Sir Robert raised concerns that in some rural areas, including parts of West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine, businesses and families were being left without even a basic phone line.

He highlighted the need for telecommunications to be viewed as essentials like water and electricity and he called for Openreach to improve their performance.

Sir Robert said: “It has sometimes taken six months between someone moving into a house and their having a basic phone connection.

‘‘We are talking not about superfast broadband or broadband, but a basic phone connection.

‘‘Anything that the Minister can do to improve that performance will be welcome.

‘‘The point has been made that such a connection should be treated like electricity and water as an essential service to the household.”

“I hope he will also deal with the relationship between Openreach and the service provider in ensuring that the consumer gets compensation for a failure to deliver. Such compensation would help focus the mind and make some recompense for people not having that basic service.”

Commenting on the importance of good connectivity to businesses in the North-east, Sir Robert highlighted the need for improvements to help support the oil and gas industry.

He called on the Scottish Government to deliver the improvements that the UK Government had helped to fund:

“I particularly wish to reinforce the importance of superfast broadband to the north-east of Scotland,’’ he added.

‘‘With the oil and gas industry, there are a lot of businesses dealing with large amounts of data, and a lot of those businesses have grown up in rural parts of Aberdeenshire.”

“The money that the UK Government have given to the Scottish Government needs to deliver on the ground for those people in the north-east of Scotland if we are to keep a vital industry effective, at its most efficient and raising more money for the tax system to reinforce investment in infrastructure.”

Sir Robert has previously raised his concerns about connectivity in the North-east with the industry regulator Ofgem, the Scottish Government and Openreach.

He has also called for new guidance in Scotland for house builders and providers, such as Openreach, to help ensure that telecommunications are installed promptly.