Scottish Community Superfast Broadband Project To Connect Remote Islands

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

Follow on: Google +

Eight remote island and mainland communities in Scotland are set to receive up to 50Mbps broadband by next year

A community broadband project in Scotland is to connect 1,400 homes and businesses in eight remote island and mainland communities unlikely to be covered by existing fibre deployments.

Communities on Colonsay, Mull, Iona, Jura, Lismore, Islay, Luing and the peninsula of Craignish have teamed up to create GigaPlus Argyll (GPA), which has received £980,000 in public funding from Community Broadband Scotland (CBS).

Many residents currently have speeds of less than 2Mbps, but GPA will look to deliver up to 50Mbps broadband, claiming it will bring a range of social and educational benefits as well as an economic boost of up to £3.4 million.

Scotland broadband

Mull ScotlandRollout will occur in phases, with the south of Mull and Lismore connected first, followed by Luing and the northern end of Jura. Coverage will spread from these areas to other communities, with all set to receive faster speeds by June 2016.

“Connections in all of these areas are poor, many with speeds less than 2 Mbps, and the project will deliver transformational change to island residents and businesses,” said Moray Finch, chairman of GPA and general manager of the Mull and Iona Community Trust which spearheaded the project.

“To go from the superslow lane to being able to offer affordable broadband to meet the needs of homeowners as well as uncontended commercial connections for businesses will open up huge opportunities for us.”

Community focus

CBS is a Scottish government initiative aimed at extending coverage beyond the 95 percent of premises set to be covered by the £410 million Digital Scotland project, part-funded by Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK). Since rollout started last year, Digital Scotland has connected more than 275,000 premises with plans to reach another 145,000.

“Finding ways to bring robust high-speed broadband to our most remote and rural communities, where all communications are notoriously difficult, will have a transformational impact on the way people live, work and learn. It opens avenues in both social and economic terms,” said Mark Tate, CBS director.

“This project is truly ground-breaking in the way it brings together the community, the private sector and public sector advice, support and funding to deliver a robust and sustainable next generation solution. The service will be delivered over a community-owned infrastructure that will be operated by a commercial internet service provider on a fixed term contract/lease with local labour.”

Some of the most remote locations in the UK are part of Digital Scotland’s remit, with the Highlands and Islands component has been described as the most complex subsea cable operation ever undertaken by BT in UK waters.

In July, Stornoway became the first Outer Hebrides town to receive BDUK following the deployment of 250 miles of fibre across 20 separate seabad crossings in Scotland.

What do you know about fibre broadband? Try our quiz!