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Scottish Highlands and Islands Broadband: £120m bid to connect UK’s most remote communities

Who’s funding Scottish broadband rollout to the Highlands and Islands?

Latest news for Scottish Highlands & Islands BroadbandHighlands and Islands Enterprise has a £120 million pot of cash from the Scottish Government to upgrade communications infrastructure for ‘world class connectivity’ by 2020.

Scotland has also been given £100.8m through Broadband Delivery UK to spend on improving broadband speeds by 2015, although this includes projects in the lowlands and major towns and cities.

Local communities can also apply for help from a £5m seed fund to develop their own projects, administered through Community Broadband Scotland.

What are the Scottish government’s broadband goals?

The Scottish Government’s general plan is to see 85-90 per cent of Scottish homes and businesses reached by fibre at 40-80Mbps by 2015.

A mix of fibre and other suitable technologies is expected to connect the remaining 15-10 per cent by 2020.

How will broadband reach the Scottish Highlands and Islands?

With such a variety of locations to reach, HIE expects to use a broad range of technical solutions, from fixed wireless links to laying underground and sub-sea cables to connect the distant island communities. 

This is involving both major providers such as BT, local companies like Shetland Telecom, and community-assistance projects such as Tegola.

Latest news for Scottish Highlands and Islands Broadband

BT’s Shetland fibre link brings Christmas boost to Alness, Dingwall, Invergordon, Kirkwall, Tain and Thurso

BT's Shetland fibre link brings Christmas boost by mrpattersonsir/FlickrAn £8 million fibre-optic link to Lerwick in the Shetlands is boosting speeds along its route through Alness, Dingwall, Invergordon, Kirkwall, Tain and Thurso.

The 1,000km includes a 400km underwater section, and is one of the longest optical transmissions systems in the UK.

Exchanges along the route can now offer up-to-20Mbps services over copper ADSL2+ broadband, with ISPs expected to upgrade existing customers between January and March.

BT Scotland’s director, Brendan Dick, said: “This is a great, early Christmas present for Lerwick and the mainland towns as we originally planned to connect the fibre link early in the New Year.

“BT’s continuing commitment to the Highlands and Islands is evident through the investment of £8 million in the new, north fibre route and I’m delighted that we’ve joined up the links in the chain significantly ahead of schedule.

“The arrival of Ethernet in Lerwick will deliver a huge boost for local businesses and public sector organisations and I’m certain it will deliver big benefits to the local economy.

The new cable will also play a major role in any future deployment of fibre broadband and even higher speeds in the north of Scotland.”

Businesses along the route can also now get Ethernet speeds of up to 10Gbps, and the old microwave link from Lerwick to the mainland will be kept as a back-up.

December 19, 2012 (image mrpattersonsir / Flickr)

Three brings free Rural Broadband to Scotland’s Highlands

Scottish Highlands and Islands Broadband: Three brings free Rural Broadband to Scotland’s HighlandsThree’s Rural Broadband Working Group will be beaming free mobile broadband to 20 communities and businesses across the Scottish Highlands.

The initiative is aimed at quickly getting remote homes and businesses in the northern coastal areas connected to the web now before the potential rollout of any fixed-line solution, like fibre.

Community hubs, families and local businesses in Invergordan, Melvich and Durness will benefit from Three mobile broadband which will eventually provide speeds of up to 42Mbps once HSPA+ upgrades have been completed.

Three is giving out 20 wireless devices across the areas which will let residents and business access up to four million megabytes (roughly 4TB) of data. A community hall, a hotel and six families are among those benefiting.

Local WiFi hotspots powered by Three MiFi’s and mobile broadband dongles will also be set up so people can connect when they’re out and about.

Dave Dyson, Chief Executive at Three said, “With the Highlands having some of the most remote areas in Europe, these communities often don’t have access to the benefits of high speed broadband. We have built a network specifically for the Internet and are passionate about using this to connect people wherever they are, whether this is in the Highlands or towns and cities around the UK.”

The Scottish Government announced back in June that £120 million will be spent on connecting the remote regions of the Highlands and Islands, the plan being to have “world-class digital connectivity by 2020,” in the words of cabinet secretary for infrastructure and capital investment Alex Neil.

November 27, 2012   

Wireless lights up Skye’s neighbours

Four islands around the Isle of Skye have been connected to a growing community-based wireless broadband network established by two small universities.

Eigg, Rum, Muck and Canna, as well into some rural parts of the Scottish mainland, have been connected with the help of the the University of Edinburgh and the University of the Highlands and Islands.

The two universities had connected Gaelic College on Skye (Sabhal Mòr Ostaig UHI) to the mainland, and helped the local community to extend their network from there, with increasing use of low-cost off-the-shelf kit from Hebnet, a local technology firm.

Through the High-Speed Universal Broadband for Scotland (HUBS) project and a technical research project called Tegola, they’re now helping to connect remote communities throughout Scotland, with the backing of Community Broadband Scotland.

Tegola networks around Skye

October 17, 2012, via Computer Weekly


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