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Following the signing of the ‘Edinburgh agreement’ last month a referendum on Scottish independence is expected to take place in 2014, which could see Scotland gain independence from the UK. Focus so far has been around the impact on taxes, finance and the legal system but what effect would this have on broadband services and costs for Scottish citizens?

Darren Farnden, Head of Marketing

Darren Farnden, Head of Marketing

Due to its natural geography and dispersed population Scotland houses a large proportion of the UK’s not spots and slow spots, many of which are already causing headaches in the Government’s 2Mbps USC plans as they are difficult to reach. If Scotland was to gain independence would this problem get worse? The Government’s 2Mbps USC deadlines are in 2015 with the referendum expected to take place in 2014, so the timescales are tight leading us to believe the UK Government would of course still aim to deliver this minimum level of service to all Scottish citizens by the deadline. However, going forward as speed requirements continue to increase and technology evolves, could Scotland suffer from slower broadband upgrades than its English neighbours?

It’s all speculation at this stage but something we think is worth considering. On the one hand the Scottish Government will be in charge of their own taxation and spending so they would, in theory, have more control over how to spend their money. Whether or not superfast broadband is a priority to them is not yet known but as part of the EU they will still be expected to meet the basic requirements. On the other hand, the UK Government has a well known and documented interest in delivering superfast broadband throughout the UK as it believes such investment will help to boost the economy significantly. So in the future, will English superfast broadband roll out overtake Scotland’s?

Another point for consideration is the cost of broadband. We have already stated that Scotland’s hard to reach areas have resulted in slow speeds or a lack of service altogether. This often means that technologies such as satellite broadband have to be used as fixed line services simply aren’t viable. However, satellite services are usually more expensive for the end user. Add to this the fact that our experience shows Scottish based urban users tend to consume more bandwidth than English users and such services could be very costly.

Will such factors mean that English based providers will increase the cost of supplying broadband services in Scotland, pushing up the price for Scottish residents? Will this then have a knock on effect for customers in Northern Ireland as many of the key undersea fibre is connected via Scotland? On the other hand will Scottish based ISPs and resellers benefit from an opportunity to compete against their English counter parts?

The forthcoming referendum poses an interesting debate with a number of key factors to consider. Let’s face it, at this stage it’s all just speculation- we don’t even know if Scotland will vote to become independent yet but it’s an interesting topic and one we will follow over the next few years. On the flip side, whilst broadband costs may go up for Scotland, perhaps oil and whisky will get more expensive for English citizens…

Have your say!
What do you think will happen to broadband services and costs if Scotland gains independence? Do you have a large customer base in Scotland? Do you think this could create a market opportunity? Let us know your thoughts by leaving us a comment below.

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One Response to “Costlier broadband – the price to pay for Scottish independence?”

  1. Oh curses 🙂 . I’ve been working on an article about this for ages but, as you’ve correctly expressed, it suffers from the “Alice in Wonderland” effect of sucking you down a rabbit hole from whence there is no return or any easy answers. Excellent topic for discussion.

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