Call for government to move faster on raising business internet speed

Two of Scotland’s top entrepreneurs have urged the Scottish and UK governments to do more to boost internet speeds and allow businesses to thrive. Sir Tom Hunter and Lord Willie Haughey were speaking out after The Fair Internet Report showed speeds in only four European cities – Copenhagen, Stockholm, Bern and Budapest – have median download speeds faster than the US.

Commenting on the report, Sir Tom said: “If you’re a business – and I believe every business now is a tech business as well –your internet speed is absolutely fundamental.

“If our speed is holding us back, we have to fix it.

“I think, if the pandemic had hit us 10 years ago, we wouldn’t have been able to cope. People worked from home and we never really missed a beat. So the internet speed was good enough for that, but I think, if it had been 10 years ago trying to work from home without adequate communication we would’ve been in a terrible state.”

Lord Willie said he believed the past two years have shown internet speeds are vital for the economy and business growth.

“Overall, the broadband speed is acceptable but I think it could be better. There’s a whole question mark now about holding back on 5G. I think 5G would certainly help. It’s absolutely crucial, especially for business premises, but now when we’re experiencing so much remote working, it’s also really important that where the staff live, they have very good internet access and the optimum speeds.”

Although both the Scottish and UK governments are committed to rolling out 5G, Lord Willie said they are moving fast enough.

“We should have been having a conversation two or three years ago about the security problem with China and the people paying for the infrastructure. All the intelligence experts tell us we have to be in charge of our own destiny here.

“It’s vital another sovereign nation doesn’t have the power we’ve seen over energy that Russia has.

“Similarly we don’t want China or anyone else having that power over our internet, which will be vital for the operation of our country.”

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