This week, MSP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar, Alasdair Allan, hosted a meeting for Uig residents regarding progress on the R100 fibre broadband rollout for their area.
While telecommunications is an issue reserved to the UK Government, the Scottish Government have committed an additional £600m in funding to support the R100 rollout.
The pressing need for fibre broadband infrastructure in areas like Uig was highlighted at the end of last year, when the 4G signal relied upon by local residents for their broadband failed for over a month due various technical faults with local EE masts.
In Openreach’s updated deployment plan, the Uig area will be one of the last places to be reached by the R100 rollout, with fibre installation works not expected to be completed until March 2028.
The meeting, originally due to take place in person, had to be moved online at the last minute due to illness, meaning that a significant cohort of residents could not attend due to their internet signal being too poor, further demonstrating the limitations of the area’s lack of digital infrastructure.
Commenting after the meeting, Allan said:
“I am grateful to Duncan and the other members of the R100 team for meeting with my constituents to discuss their concerns over the timescale for fibre broadband finally reaching their area.
“While the investment from the Scottish Government to improve Scotland’s digital connectivity is most welcome, with Westminster lagging behind in fulfilling its responsibilities, it is still extremely frustrating for residents in areas like Uig to be at the back of the queue.
“In my view, Openreach should have considered each area’s current connectivity levels (including the reliability of their mobile signal and 4G) when deciding on the optimal order for the work to take place – not leaving those furthest away from existing connections until the very end. I will be continuing to pursue this issue with R100 and Openreach.
“Additionally, a number of Western Isles households will be eligible for vouchers as opposed to being included in the R100 rollout at all, and questions remain over how straightforward it will be to utilise these vouchers within communities to ensure as many people as possible can be reached by this vital infrastructure.”
Duncan Nisbet, R100 Stakeholder Director at the Scottish Government said:
“This was a great opportunity to meet with the local Uig community to discuss the R100 Programme and answer a wide range of questions. While I understand the frustration around the timing of build of full fibre infrastructure in the area, the transformational change of gigabit-capable connections should not be underestimated.
“I look forward to visiting Uig ahead of the build programme to talk through the process of building in rural areas and the impact of the civils works. I’d also encourage people across Na h-Eileanan Siar to check their property status on our website at: https://www.scotlandsuperfast.com”