BroadbandNetworks

Election 2017: SNP Make Superfast Broadband & 4G Pledges

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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SNP focuses mainly on Brexit but there are some strong connectivity promises for Scotland’s tech community

The Scottish National Party (SNP) has vowed to deliver superfast broadband to everyone in the country 2021 and to tackle mobile ‘notspots, in its manifesto for the 2017 General Election.

Although the SNP only fields candidates in Scotland, where it controls all but three of 63 constituencies, it is the third largest party in the UK parliament.

Current Holyrood targets for superfast broadband will see 750,000 premises connected by March 2018 through the £410 million Digital Scotland initiative, which is funded by the EU, UK government and the Scottish government.

Edinburgh, capital city of Scotland

SNP tech policies

In addition to the pledge for 100 percent coverage, the SNP will also campaign for the universal service obligation (USO) to start at 30Mbps and for a legal mechanism to increase this over time (the latter component is already part of the government’s proposals).

The SNP also said it would work to tackle areas without mobile coverage. EE plans to extend 4G coverage to four fifths of the Scottish landmass by the end of the year, but it is unclear how the SNP would extend that further. For reference, EE’s overall UK target is 95 percent.

“SNP MPs will call on the UK government to ensure that future mobile spectrum licensing meets key tests on geographical and population coverage, with a ‘rural areas first’ policy for new spectrum deployments,” the document said.

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Away from the connectivity pledges, the SNP has outlined its demand for Scotland to remain part of the European single market and for Scottish universities to retain EU funding for research following Brexit and to ensure the nation can attract the skilled immigrants it needs for the economy.

The manifesto also wants to ensure Scottish mobile users continue to benefit from the abolition of mobile charges once the UK has left the EU.

“Scotland needs an immigration policy suited to our specific circumstances and needs,” the document continued. “Scotland needs people to want to work here, in our businesses, our universities and in our public services. The current UK one-size-fits-all approach to immigration is failing Scotland. The SNP will continue to seek devolution of immigration powers so that Scotland can have an immigration policy that works for our economy and society”

This will be music to the ears of Scotland’s tech community but it remains to be seen what the SNP could achieve in opposition. However it has also called for stronger powers for the Scottish parliament.

There are also calls for energy efficiency to be an official policy and support for renewable energies.

The General Election is this Thursday, 8 June.

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