Time to ‘step-up’ progress connecting the Borders

Local MP John Lamont has said it is time to ‘step-up’ progress connecting harder to reach parts of the Scottish Borders as a new report finds that two thirds of adults say the internet is an “essential part” of their life.

The recently published Communications Market Report from Ofcom, found that across the UK, 64% of adults say the internet is an essential part of their lives. People are increasingly looking to access the internet on the move as Ofcom found that  78% of UK residents own a smartphone, up from 17% in 2008.

The report also finds that 41% of people say being online enables them to work more flexibly, and 75% say it keeps them closer to friends and family.

The report comes as the latest data shows one in five homes in Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk are still without access to superfast broadband.

Commenting, John Lamont MP says this report shows us that broadband is an essential utility and also key to tackling social exclusion in rural areas like the Borders.

John Lamont MP said: “As connectivity becomes increasingly vital to everyday life, it becomes more and more important to step up progress to connect the one in five homes in the Borders still without decent broadband.

“This report from Ofcom tells us that the internet is well and truly an essential utility. That is why the UK Government is right to seek to introduce a Universal Service Obligation . Just like everyone has a legal right to water, gas and electricity, everyone should have a legal right to broadband.

“But these figures also reinforce the importance of decent broadband to tackle social exclusion in rural areas like the Borders. Increasingly services are found online and if people don’t have a decent connection, they simply cannot access the same level of support. And as three quarters of people agree, being online helps with communicating with friends and family. Being stuck without a decent connection or without basic IT skills just reinforces the feeling of isolation.”