Should Scotland vote to become independent, a Rural Connectivity Commission will be set up with a view to considering how to improve issues such as mobile and broadband coverage in rural communities. The Scottish Government has announced the plans as part of a constitutional paper – Connecting Rural Scotland – and it is understood that, should the commission be formed, it will be ‘an expert body which will consider how to deliver a better deal for our rural communities and businesses while also ensuring clarity for industry and stability for investors’. With the paper setting out five areas where independence would improve rural connectivity, in the communications sectors it notes that in an independent Scotland the country would have the power to issue future spectrum licences and could include coverage obligations that ensure the ‘maximum availability of mobile telecoms throughout Scotland as a whole’. Further, the publication also suggests that ‘more flexible approaches for broadband that could extend digital services’ could be considered.
Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said of the plans: ‘Our rural communities make a very valuable contribution to Scotland’s economy and have huge potential to develop even further … With independence, we will have the powers to regulate these crucial services and to remove barriers which are holding back rural areas from achieving their full potential.’