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Orkney MSP Highlights Need for Expanded Islander Engagement Ahead of Digital Switchover

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Following on from last week’s Orkney Digital Forum, which focused on the ‘digital switchover’ of landline services across the UK, Orkney’s MSP Liam McArthur today met with BT and EE representatives at a parliamentary event to discuss further its rollout of the ‘Digital Voice’ programme in Scotland.

The event offered MSPs an opportunity to learn more about the technologies supporting the digital system, as well as BT’s plans for public engagement events this summer.

This will include a visit to Orkney Library & Archive on the afternoon of Tuesday 23 July, and morning of Wednesday 24 July, where BT representatives will be available for ‘community stakeholder’ briefings and one-to-one meetings to offer details on their plans and respond to concerns.

Mr McArthur reiterated concerns raised at the Digital Forum that that those in the smaller isles, and elsewhere, might not be able to make it along to the planned events in Orkney.

He asked for plans to be developed with local ‘partners’, including Development Trusts, Community Councils, HIE and the Council to see if ways can be found to ensure advice and support is readily available within each community as the switchover moves ahead.

Speaking afterwards, Mr McArthur said:

“I’ve been grateful to BT for their engagement on this issue, including at last week’s Digital Forum in Kirkwall.

“It’s crucial that the needs of islanders are taken fully into account in the transition away from the analogue landline network and it’s fair to say that many questions still remain to be resolved.

“Of course we need to see the right broadband and mobile infrastructure in place that can support any switchover.

“It is important too, however, that support is available locally to help with advice and any other issues that might arise after installations take place.

“That will  require BT and EE to work with partners in Orkney to build capacity and understanding so that people can feel confident about this change.”

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