Concerns have been raised that the poor quality of broadband services in parts of rural Scotland may be driving people out of the countryside.
Richard Lochhead, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Environment in the Scottish Government, said there is evidence of broadband-related depopulation north of the border.
As reported by the Scotsman, he told Scotland’s Rural Affairs Committee that a lack of connectivity is seen as a major push factor for some people towards the towns and cities.
"While you have traditional conversations about people leaving rural communities due to lack of access to higher education, affordable housing or employment, now there is an added factor where there is not good connectivity that can also lead to rural depopulation," Mr Lochhead stated.
He commented that the Scottish Government is "very keen" to step in with the resources needed to ensure more remote and rural communities are connected to the 21st century.
Ministers have committed to delivering 95 per cent high-speed broadband coverage across Scotland by 2017.
However, some areas - such as the remote Highlands and Islands region - look set to fall short of this target despite the availability of public funding for infrastructure upgrades.