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No Broadband or Mobile Surprises in the SNP 2019 Manifesto

Thursday, November 28th, 2019 (1:22 am) - Score 1,148

Last night the Scottish National Party (Pàrtaidh Nàiseanta na h-Alba) finally published details of their 2019 Manifesto for the 12th December UK General Election, which largely reiterates their £600m Reaching 100% (R100) “superfast broadband” rollout project and promises to continue campaigning for more funding from Westminster.

As a quick recap. BT (Openreach) has just won the full contract for the Scottish Government’s R100 programme (here), which originally aspired to make “superfast broadband” (30Mbps+) ISP networks available to “every single premises in Scotland” by the end of 2021 (here).

Sadly R100 is currently running a year behind schedule and few expect it to achieve the aforementioned ambition on-time. Perhaps unsurprisingly the SNP’s manifesto has thus removed any mention of 2021 and fails to offer a new date, although in fairness Openreach will need to spend a few months conducting engineering surveys before we can be sure of the exact rollout plan.

Otherwise their manifesto continues the SNP’s familiar demands for more investment from Westerminster for broadband and mobile, although their claim that “only the SNP is committed to providing access to superfast broadband to every home and business in Scotland” seems to ignore PM Boris Johnson’s proposed £5bn investment, which aims to make “gigabit-capable broadband” available to every UK home by the end of 2025.

SNP – Boosting Infrastructure and Investment

Investment in modern physical and digital infrastructure is vital to a thriving, productive economy in the 21st Century. In Government, the SNP has recognised this through the National Infrastructure Mission which will see an additional £7 billion invested in Scotland over the period to 2026.

The creation of the Scottish National Investment Bank will provide £2 billion of long term, patient capital to businesses and infrastructure projects that will help transform the Scottish economy and reduce our carbon emissions.

To ensure public projects serve the public interest we are currently conducting work on the establishment of a National Infrastructure Company – an idea that puts fair working conditions at the heart of public infrastructure projects.

To build on the work of the Scottish Government, SNP MPs will push for an increase in the capital borrowing limits that restrict our ability to invest in infrastructure and grow our economy. We will also demand that Scotland gets a fair share of any investment by the British Business Bank and that it works closely with the Scottish National Investment Bank.

We will also press the UK Government to invest in digital connectivity including superfast broadband and 5G technology. Since 2013, we have increased broadband to 95% of premises across Scotland, on time and on budget. Now only the SNP is committed to providing access to superfast broadband to every home and business in Scotland, investing £600 million towards this, with the UK Government providing just £21 million of that.

SNP MPs will press for Scotland to get its fair share of the £5 billion UK Government funding to roll out gigabit broadband to the hardest to reach areas. We will call on the Shared Rural Network to deliver 95% 4G mobile coverage in Scotland – as applies for the rest of the UK. And we will press for the current review into the UK Telecoms Supply Chain to be concluded promptly .

SNP MPs will work to bridge the digital divide to improve the availability and affordability of broadband and mobile services. We will press the UK Government to reclassify the internet as an essential service and support affordable housing providers to make the service available. We will also work with broadband and mobile service providers to make more affordable tariffs and packages more widely available – and call for the UK Government to legislate for a social tariff.

If the UK leaves the EU, SNP MPs will monitor the impact of voluntary free roaming arrangements for mobile phone use in the EU. We will press for legislation to protect Scottish and UK consumers should these break down.

In fairness, despite its delays, the Scottish Government’s £600m R100 project is of a good size and their decision to introduce a 10 year relief on business rates for new fibre (twice as long as in England) is commendable. We should also point out that broadband is technically devolved to Westminster and so some would argue that they’ve gone above and beyond the call of duty.

However the proof will be in the pudding and we’re extremely interested to see just how far the contract with BT will be able to push “full fibre” into rural areas. Alternatively they could suffer the same problem as the Welsh Government, which struggled to offer a big enough subsidy to attract Openreach to build in some of the most remote areas where the costs quickly spiral away from economic viability.

We’d also be very surprised if the R100 project didn’t include some kind of community fund or voucher programme like we’ve seen elsewhere (this is widely expected to be part of their plan), although none of this is mentioned above.

Leave a Comment
18 Responses
  1. Avatar Politics is dumb

    Their claim that “only the SNP is committed to providing access to superfast broadband to every home and business in Scotland” seems to ignore PM Boris Johnson’s proposed £5bn investment, which aims to make “gigabit-capable broadband” available to every UK home by the end of 2025

    I think they’re trying to subtly hint that the Tories aren’t interested in actually holding to the 2025 plan

    • ..that might work, except sadly they haven’t even set a new target date for their own plan and are already 1 year behind schedule themselves. Political parties in glass houses etc.

  2. Avatar hamish

    Superfast isnt enough

    ultrafast should be a minimum.

  3. Avatar NGA for all

    Nobody has come good explaining how the £600m is compiled. I think it can be shown that at least £250m of this are the balances from the existing project, capital owed, clawback,

    This is much less about budget and more about either BT resources to conduct the work. Sure BT will hang on for more and more budget but you hope these need reconciling and BT’s contributions are aligned with the cost recovery processes.

    DSSB and SNP would do everyone a favour if a ‘true up’ was published.

  4. Avatar Brian

    Never mind completion by 2021, will be lucky if we find out which premises are to be even covered by 2021.

  5. Avatar Samuel

    makes me laugh – SNP want independence but still want to sponge of the rest of the UK.

    • Avatar Connor

      Are you an idiot?

      How does using scottish taxpayer money to fund an infrastructure project in Scotland constitute “Sponging”

      Typical misinformed, SNP-Bad, rhetoric

  6. Avatar beany

    The funniest thing is they are still quoting things in pounds but want out of the UK see Scotland can stay in the EU.

    Only problem with that as Andrew Neil identified is their leader does not want the Euro as Scotlands currency but she wants to for the time being keep the English Pound, or the currency of the country she wants to leave not join. How that works i guess only she knows.

    Also as Openreach would then be rolling out a product to a foreign nation surely that means rightly so, the price goes up for them.

    I seriously do not understand some of the SNP philosophy. Does it go. We do not get enough from the UK for what we provide, so we no want to be part of that system, no longer want to beg for what we get, no longer want provide to back, but we will still take anything and everything we can get including their currency, even though we do not want to be party of the Territory. Or is it some other kind of madness?

    • Avatar Mike

      The SNP want to deliver Scotland to the EU on a silver platter, they are faux nationalists, and see their future as EU bureaucrats with no accountability.

      Imagine how the media/establishment would treat the SNP if they were truely for independence and were anti-EU…

      Perhaps it’s good they are installing fibre now as they will have a lot of trouble paying for it later.

    • Avatar beany

      So kind of a modern day Braveheart only without the fearlessness, charm or brains. : D

    • Avatar Connor

      You do know that a country cannot “own” a currentcy, right?

      Many many countries arround the world trade in the US Dollar despite having no political affiliation to the US

      On top of that, the pound is as much Scotlands as it is Englands, Wales or Northern Irelands. Former BOE Chairmen have testified to that effect multiple times

    • Avatar Mike

      They can use they pound but it means they will need to match fiscal policy or end up like the south Mediterranean countries in the eurozone.

    • Avatar Steve

      “they are faux nationalists”

      So what are “nationalists”? BNP, National Front, Combat18, National Action and UKIP?

    • Avatar beany

      “On top of that, the pound is as much Scotlands as it is Englands, Wales or Northern Irelands. Former BOE Chairmen have testified to that effect multiple times”

      Yes that is right because all those combined as they stand are politically called Great Britain. IF you as Scotland LEAVE THE UNION, you leave the currency and it is NO longer yours.

      You seem as confused as your great SNP leader. Thankfully you will be off to the Euro soon and you can complain to them not enough money is printed for you instead.

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