Scottish Government responds to question from Russell with acknowledgement of criticisms made of the company.
The SNP MSP for Argyll and Bute has received an assurance from the Scottish Government that BT is not guaranteed to be the contractor for the 100% roll out of super-fast broadband that has been promised by the SNP Scottish Government for its third term.
Mr Russell asked a number of questions about BT’s broadband performance given many complaints in his constituency which, he believes, echo complaints received by other MSPs. Just this week Borders Lib Dem Councillor Catriona Bhatia raised similar issues within her area.
Included in those questions was one about the 100% roll out which has been promised over the next five years.
However in answer the new Cabinet Secretary Fergus Ewing made it clear that BT was not guaranteed to be the contractor for the next phase.
Mr Russell said: “I remain very dissatisfied – like many of my constituents – with the performance of BT both in delivering conventional telephone services and in rolling out superfast broadband. My postbag is full of complaints about bad or non-existent delivery, very slow attention to service outages and provision of products that turn out not to be as advertised. I am meeting BT this week to take these matters further.
I was however also concerned that BT would simply carry on with the contract to roll out super-fast broadband but now there will be a real choice for the Scottish Government when the next contract is awarded.
I am therefore determined that BT’s poor showing is drawn to the attention of the Government when that contract is being considered and I hope that as a result BT will now up its game and do what it has promised for my area and for the rest of Scotland.
Consequently I am heartened by the acknowledgement from Mr Ewing that the criticism of quality of service that have been made and Ofcom’s determination to see improved standards is being openly acknowledged by the Scottish Government.”
The text of the Parliamentary Question, and the answer, is given below.
Michael Russell (Argyll and Bute) (Scottish National Party): To ask the Scottish Government whether it plans to give BT a role in delivering its commitment to provide 100% superfast broadband coverage across the country and, if so, what consideration it has given to the reported criticism of the company’s performance in the rollout in Argyll and Bute and the service it provides to phone and broadband customers.
The Scottish Government is currently working with BT to deliver the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband programme, which will provide fibre broadband to at least 95% of premises in Scotland by the end of 2017.
Any new public investment to deliver the 100% superfast broadband commitment will be delivered via new open procurements. Until these contracts are awarded, it is not possible to determine what role, if any, BT might play in delivery.
The Scottish Government is aware of the reported criticisms of BT Openreach’s quality of service and is encouraged that Ofcom has set out clear proposals for higher minimum standards and more severe penalties for non-compliance.