View from the Chamber

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A British Infrastructure Group (BIG) survey published last year found that nearly two thirds of broadband connections fail to reach the government’s proposed minimum standard of 10mbps.

There is a long way to go before reaching the Scottish Government’s commitment to delivering 100 per cent superfast broadband access across Scotland by 2021.

In an effort to move forward, Fort William was named as one of four Highland areas to benefit from the £4.7 million funding secured by Highland Council and Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) for the
Local Full Fibre Network (LFFN) programme.

As a Chamber, we were delighted to have been able to contribute to this successful bid. The programme will maximise the availability of ultra high-speed broadband services to business and residential users in Fort William.

High-speed connectivity doesn’t just apply to broadband. With more and more people relying on their smartphones, we need to ensure we can keep up with demand for 4G mobile technology.

The new Scottish Government 4G Infill Programme will provide £2.5 million to fund new mobile telephone masts in locations with no existing 4G mobile coverage to improve mobile connectivity for communities and businesses.

Fergus Ewing, Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy and Connectivity, said at the launch of the programme: ‘Widespread high-speed and reliable mobile coverage is just as vital as broadband, and ensures that people, communities, and businesses are able to stay connected.

‘The Infill programme will target the areas where it can make the most difference, achieving better and cost-effective connectivity in some of our most remote and challenging areas.’

There are still many businesses without sufficient digital connectivity within Lochaber, but these changes in broadband and mobile connectivity are a very positive start. Chamber members will get the chance to discuss their business issues with Mr Ewing at a members’ lunch on Friday June 1.

To join the Chamber, call 01397 705 765 or visit www.lochaberchamber.co.uk.