THERE appears little at first glance to link a rural Lochaber village with a former mining community in Midlothian.
While Kinlochleven is a destination for mountain climbers and outdoor sports enthusiasts, Mayfield, near Dalkeith, is increasingly home to commuters working in Edinburgh.
Many of the coverage issues we experience in Scotland, particularly 3G, stem from the UK Government’s flawed approachScottish Government spokesman
Earlier this year it was revealed the villages shared the dubious distinction of having the two streets with the worst broadband speeds in Scotland.
Data from independent comparison site uSwitch.com showed that Corrie Road in Kinlochleven had an average download speed of 0.985 megabytes per second (MBPS), while McKinnon Drive in Mayfield recorded 1.1222 MBPS.
The average download speed across the UK is 22.8 MBPS.
The Scottish Government has said it is committed to tackling the digital divide across the country. It aims to deliver “world class connectivity” in Scotland by 2020 through a series of infrastructure projects.
Upgrades delivered in partnership with local authorities and the commercial sector.
Along with the UK Government, it is funding the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband project which installs fibre infrastructure in areas where private companies have chosen not to develop.
When combined with roll-out plans planned by commercial firms, the project aims to ensure around 95 per cent of premises in Scotland have access to fibre broadband by the end of 2017 and 85 per cent by the end of 2015.
The first phase of the project centres on the Highland and Islands.
Among the communities to have already benefited from improved connectivity is Kinlochleven.
The upgraded network reached the village in June, taking the total number of premises with access to new fibre networks in the Highlands and Islands to more than 100,000.
Deputy First Minister John Swinney has said the roll-out of the massive fibre optic network being built across the region was one of the most ambitious broadband projects ever undertaken.
While investment in the broadband network is on-going, the Scottish Government faces further challenges to ensure the country’s mobile network remains up to speed.
A report released in August by telecoms watchdog Ofcom found that one-quarter of the country has no mobile coverage.
It also revealed that Scotland has the worst 3G coverage in the UK, with 97.1 per cent of premises covered compared to 99.6 per cent in England.
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Poor mobile coverage in parts of Scotland continues to be of concern to the Scottish Government. Improving this is a crucial part of our world class digital vision, recognising the economic and social importance of reliable mobile coverage for individuals, businesses and the nation as a whole.
“Many of the coverage issues we experience in Scotland, particularly 3G, stem from the UK Government’s flawed approach to auctioning spectrum, which allowed operators to focus primarily on urban areas and has led to the patchy coverage experienced by businesses and people in some rural communities.
“The Scottish Government is committed to developing a plan to tackle this issue and the Deputy First Minister hosted a productive round-table discussion with mobile operators recently with a view to developing a joint plan to maximise and improve mobile coverage in every part of Scotland.
“We are also making a substantial investment – over £400m – in broadband infrastructure through the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband programme. As a result of this investment, coverage will reach 95 per cent of premises by end 2017, extending access and increasing speeds for people and businesses right across Scotland.”