Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP, Alasdair Allan, and MP, Angus MacNeil, have warmly welcomed the announcement today that 146 million pounds is being invested to deliver fibre broadband to 84 per cent of the Highlands and Islands Enterprise area, which includes the Western Isles.

The investment, which includes 126 million pounds from the Scottish Government will deliver a massive boost to connectivity for businesses and homes across the region and will help to secure future inward investment.

It will also see engineers laying around 400km of subsea cables over 19 crossings to remote islands in the biggest sub-sea engineering project ever undertaken by BT in the UK.

Alasdair Allan commented:

“This is a huge investment by the Scottish Government in improving the Broadband network in the Highlands and Islands. I am very conscious that the Western Isles has to have improved access to broadband if it is to grow economically. It is significant that the Scottish Government is committing funds to the Highlands and Islands before it tackles broadband elsewhere in Scotland, in recognition of the major problems which our geography has created for connectivity in the past.

“Now that a timescale has been committed to and major contractors are in place I, like many people in the islands, will be keen to see detail on how these plans will impact on the Western Isles where broadband speeds have been a major issue.

“The commitment to subsea cables where necessary is very encouraging and I have now sought a meeting with HIE to seek detail on how specific communities in the islands will benefit from this work.”

Angus MacNeil added:

“This is fantastic news and will be warmly welcomed throughout the Highlands and Islands. This project to deliver Next Generation Broadband will allow people in rural and remote communities to compete at international level.

“At the moment poor broadband coverage is proving a handicap for many local businesses in the Western Isles. This new investment should hopefully eradicate all these problems, and allow the same broadband coverage in a rural island village as you get in any of the world’s big cities.”