This week I took part in a Westminster Hall debate on broadband speeds, you can watch my intervention here. This is part of a continued effort to highlight the benefits of rolling out superfast broadband throughout the UK. I have previously spoken at length on the subject, you can read my speech here.
Inverclyde specifically has a low availability of superfast broadband when compared to other constituencies. Through working alongside small businesses in Inverclyde, including leading a debate on Small Business Saturday, I know just how important broadband speed are. With Small and Medium Enterprises being key drivers of local economic growth and job creation it is crucial that we keep pressure on the UK Government to invest in research if we are to have any chance of providing the level of service that our constituencies deserves.
The Scottish Government have invested in research as part of their world-class Digital 2020 vision. Two such projects are the free-space optics project at Edinburgh University and the White Space project at Strathclyde University. Significant progress has already been made towards the goal of 95% coverage of superfast broadband in Scotland by 2017.
Inverclyde has shared in £71million of funding for phase 1 and 2 of the Rest of Scotland project. Of the nearly 40,000 premises in the constituency, around 32,000 have already benefited from the commercial roll out of superfast broadband coverage. A further 6,700 premises are predicted to receive superfast broadband coverage through the publicly funded programme by June 2017.
It is imperative that small and medium sized commercial premises have the tools they need to flourish, and to create the economic growth that would benefit areas such as Inverclyde.