A BUSINESSMAN based on the Isle of Mull has revealed he has to head out to sea to get reliable internet access.

Ben Wilson, managing director of Inverlussa Marine Services, which employs 70 people and runs a large fleet of vessels, said he can get better internet connection on the high seas than in his island office.

He spoke out as critics questioned the Scottish Government's commitment to deliver faster broadband to remote areas.

He said: "With bigger files, to do with our vessels, we can download them quicker at sea than when we are in the office.

"Mull is where we chose to have our head office, but this is just another handicap to working on Mull, it holds you back.

"There are people working in our office, they are the cogs of the wheel, but it's really difficult speed wise, it restricts what we are doing because the internet is incredibly slow.

"The boats work with a satellite system, so they are much more reliable."

A Scottish Government backed scheme saw almost £1million pumped in to a project to deliver superfast broadband to Mull, Iona and other remote settlements.

But the project, which should have been up and running over a year ago, has been in limbo since May, after AB Internet, the firm contracted to do the job via a community trust scheme, went into administration.

Mr Wilson said: "It's very frustrating because there was a great effort from Mull and Iona Community Trust, now I don't know how you move forward, it's a nightmare."

Masts have been erected at various locations on Mull, which has a population of around 2,600, but the community trust says these are being left to rot as its efforts to find a way forward have been rejected by Scottish Government initiative, Community Broadband Scotland.

The community trust spent five years progressing the GigaPlus Argyll project but say ridiculous rules prevent them using the state-funded masts for a new scheme backed by private investors.

Moray Finch, general manager of the trust, said they had worked hard over five years to try to deliver faster broadband as it is a key issue affecting the island's economy and depopulation.

He said: "It appears that every common sense suggestion we have put forward for a community led solution is prohibited by advice from Broadband Development UK, via Community Broadband Scotland.

"Meanwhile time moves on and our remote communities continue to be depopulated, in part due to the poor, and in some cases non-existent, broadband provision.

"We feel strongly that public funding should be made available, free of restrictions, to resolve the situation.

"To say we feel badly let down by the public sector is a massive understatement. It has become painfully apparent to us that the involvement of community groups in Community Broadband Scotland's projects is viewed as little more than a conduit, via which public funding can be channelled to large corporations and not as a vehicle for achieving real, sustainable development in our fragile communities."

Mr Finch added: "We should have had 1600 properties connected but AB Internet went into administration when it had only just made the first two connections. It got £700,000 from the Scottish Government."

With the masts in place he said: "The obvious thing is for us to build on to these assets."

A Scottish Government spokesman said: "We are acutely aware of the importance of broadband to local communities throughout Scotland, particularly in rural areas like Mull. That is why we are committed to delivering 100 per cent superfast broadband access across the whole of Scotland by the end of 2021.

"Community Broadband Scotland and Highlands & Island Enterprise have been working closely with the GigaPlus Argyll board on a number of options to resolve the situation caused by the collapse of AB Internet, including consideration of the potential use of the AB Internet masts.

"We stand ready to support the GigaPlus Argyll board's final decision on how they wish to proceed."