FOUR Scottish local authority areas have the worst internet connections in the UK - despite a two-year-old Scottish Government bid to help ensure everyone in Scotland with access to superfast broadband by the end of 2021.

An new analysis of data from telecommmunications regulator Ofcom has revealed that Orkney Islands has the worst internet connection of the 32 local authorities in Scotland and of 376 across the UK, with the lowest access to decent broadband and slowest download speeds.

Of the UK’s top ten areas for poor internet connection, half are in Scotland.

The Shetland Islands, Argyll and Bute and Na h-Eileanan Siar (Western Isles) also have some of the worst internet access in the UK.

Researchers analysed new Ofcom data on download speeds and access to superfast and ultrafast broadband across the UK and created an index to discover which areas had the worst internet connection of all.

Orkney has the lowest percentage of premises connected to superfast broadband - 64.3% compared to the UK average of 94%. And it has just 1% of households with ultrafast broadband - compared to the UK average of 59%.

Orkney residents also face the slowest download speeds in the UK, at just 34.8 megabits per second, while the UK standard is 58.2 megabits per second.

Superfast and ultrafast broadband are significantly faster than standard broadband.

Superfast offers speeds of 30 megabits per second or more, and ultrafast provides 300 megabits per second.

Using superfast broadband means you can, download things faster, make high quality video calls over wi-fi, easily access online TV and music streaming services and have several people using the connection at the same time in your home.


In August, 2020, the Scottish Government launched a national voucher scheme to help people access superfast broadband which was due to run till March.

The Scottish Broadband Voucher Scheme provided funding of up to £5,000 to help homes and businesses not in scope of either Reaching 100% (R100) contracts or planned commercial investment to obtain superfast broadband where providers may not ordinarily go.

Interim vouchers of up to £400 were made available for premises where superfast broadband is planned for after the end of 2021 – with an additional £250 for those in the hardest-to-reach areas.

The Scottish Government has now confirmed that just 2,268 installations have been completed in the hardest-to-reach areas, which is 2.7 per cent of eligible homes and businesses. Only 1,338 installations have been completed since April.

And Scottish Liberal Democrats say it will take 15 years to complete them all at the present rate of progress.


Researchers from Search Intelligence Ltd found Shetland Islands has the second poorest internet access in the UK, with just 2.1% of premises accessing ultrafast broadband and 69.7% able to get superfast. The median download speed was 41 megabits per second.

Argyll and Bute places was placed third on the UK’s list of areas with the worst internet access. The median download speed was just 42.7 megabits per second, while just 78.1% had access to superfast broadband and just one in 55 could get ultrafast.

Coming fourth on the list of the list of areas with the worst internet access in the UK is Na h-Eileanan Siar area where only 4.5% have access to ultrafast, while the median download speed is just 42.1 megabits per second.

Dumfries and Galloway was eighth on the list areas with the poorest internet in the UK.

The research, carried out for found that on the other end of the scale, West Dunbartonshire recorded the second best internet access in the UK with download speeds of 127.4 megabits per second and with 89.6% of households with access to ultrafast broadband and 98.3% getting superfast. It was the only Scottish area in the top ten local authorities with the best internet connection.


It was only behind Kingston Upon Hull in the list of areas with the best internet connection in the UK. It registered download speeds of 171.4 megabits per minute and 98.5% superfast and 97.6% ultrafast broadband coverage.

A spokesman for said: "This data gives us a compelling insight into just how significant the digital divide is across the UK. Everything we do as a society, from entertainment, work and daily living, is so intertwined with the internet, and the importance of fair digital access for all should never be underestimated."

A Scottish Government spokesman said: "The Scottish Government wants to ensure everyone, including those in rural areas, has access to high speed broadband and is investing to extend broadband infrastructure across rural Scotland, despite telecoms powers being reserved to the UK Government. Scottish Government programmes have connected nearly one million premises to faster broadband so far, and the ongoing work to connect 16 subsea cables to 15 Scottish islands will help deliver future-proofed, resilient digital connectivity to thousands of island residents for decades to come."