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Government announces successful bid for superfast broadband for Highlands and Islands

20 October 2010

Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) today [Wednesday 20 October 2010] welcomed the news that its bid for UK Government funding to deliver superfast broadband in some of Scotland's most rural areas had met with success.

HIE Chief Executive Alex Paterson said he was delighted that the strengths of the Highlands and Islands' case for funding had been recognised.

"We worked hard to put together a strong bid which the Scottish Government could take forward with confidence," said Mr Paterson.

"The next generation of digital technology is going to be a 'must have' for rural regions like the Highlands and Islands in the coming years.

"Superfast broadband will have a significant economic and social impact on the Highlands and Islands and ensure the region remains internationally competitive.

"Just like good transport and telecommunications systems, it's an enabling technology which stands to benefit businesses and communities in hard-to-reach locations even more than those in major cities.

"Our ultimate aim is for all parts of the Highlands and Islands to be able to benefit. This news brings that goal a big step closer.

"Once we know the details of the BDUK funding, we'll be looking to supplement this from other sources, as well as continuing discussions with telecoms providers to secure their support."

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joe 21/10/2010

will this be available to all or will it be con com part 2. is there anything about this announcement which gives any hope to areas which are force fed con com?

L Matheson 22/10/2010

I hope that this is rolled out to everyone who at present can not get broadband through their phone line. I live only 12 miles from Inverness but have to use mobile broadband as my phone line is too far from the exchange to get broadband. Hopefully I will benefit from this and not be left with no broadband fast or not!!

Simone Nelson 26/10/2010

After at least 4 previous attempts. I have just applied on behalf of the Dundonnell Community to the Leader II Broadband Challenge Fund and got the feeling I and some 40 odd others too - might the 'insight' gained from this be used to help all of these disadvantaged areas - or might we be starting from the bottom yet again?

Hans-Jurgen Migulski 26/10/2010

Being severely disabled, having on eye to view and other disablements would I be permitteted to take part in this trial because I live about 6 miles out of Elgin and my phoneline is a joke. I am paying for a service up to 24 Mb and get normally below 550 kb/sec. I am living there since more than 20 years and am very happy there only the broadband seems to be a joke. Kind regards HJM

Robert Hawkes 27/10/2010

The Highlands need super fast broadband, this "basic" broadband speed of 2Mb/s that is talked about is not sufficient to make the area, with its special needs and challenges, commercially competitive. Running our website design business in Fort William is not easy as we struggle to compete with central belt agencies with the 3Mb/s service we get. This means we cannot successfully use video conferencing to replace the hassle of travelling long distances to meetings, and a lot of the new technology using video and higher quality imagery is still not accessible for us. The availability of broadband also dictates where we have to locate our offices, and a lot of the cheaper and more attractive out of town locations are not an option for us. Homeworking for our staff is a big issue as they are not able to communicate properly with the office. For instance I live in Glenfinnan where we get the Rural Broadband service of 512Kb/s and this is woefully inadequate to support business use. I really hope that the super fast broadband is made available to all areas of Fort William and surrounding communities, and that the service is taken to individual households without leaving "the last mile" for communities to manage. This will also be an opportunity to tidy up the totally unacceptable mess of BT cable infrastructure in the area, where so many cables are laid overland and vulnerable to damage.

Kris 28/10/2010

I hope this funding isn't wasted on the Inverness area which already has better broadband than most of the highlands in the form of ADSL2. If the money (beyond token amounts) is used elsewhere I hope it's used on something other than ADSL2 for those areas. ADSL2 can hardly be classed as superfast or next generation broadband, considering 60-70% of the country already has it. I'd say it's current or last generation broadband. Also ADSL2 suffers from the same distance from the exchange issues as older ADSL. What I'd like to see is a fibre rollout either to the cabinet or to the premises, ideally something not locked into BT either. I think this wouldn't be as expensive as it sounds; the BT race to infinity project only needs 1000 people to register interest to make it worth their while.

Hugh 28/10/2010

May I suggest Scourie would be an ideal place to trial superfast broadband. There is only a 512mb/s service at the moment and also a number of "not spots" because of distance from the exchange. Surely it is only fair that rural areas that have been deprived of an adequate broadband service for years be included in this trial rather than those that already have an 8mb/s service

zita 02/11/2010

I hope this is available to all soon as having been promised by both BT and Sky that they could give us broadband although we live near bridge of orchy they could not do it, so we have to rely on dial up which is not good when you are trying to run a small business.

Donald MacKay 15/11/2010

Kris as an Inverness resident, I resent the "wasted on Inverness area" insult. As I am approximately 6 miles in cable length from the telephone exchange, my broadband should more accurately be described as "eighth-band" (going by the "up to 8 MB/s" blurb all the vendors are keen to quote). We all need a proper high speed connection, so rather than trying to do each other down, we should all campaign for a greater, more comprehensive system to be rolled out area by area across the whole of the Highlands and Islands, The system should be fibre optic, however we must also consider what improvements are needed for the "backbone" (main trunk distribution to other areas of U.K. and continents e.g. European and American etc.), in order to cope with increased local (Highland and Island area) data traffic capacity.

Alistair Fleming 18/11/2010

Its great that the Highlands have been chosen. But I suspect the problem with being treated as a "pilot" is that there will be some areas that benefit greatly and others that don't benefit at all. Ministers can and will congratulate themselves on "bringing superfast broadband to the Highlands" whilst many in Highlands will still either get no broadband or the same slow service. Perhaps I'm being too cynical but once the pilot is complete theres a danger that those that didnt benefit it from it will be, once again, left at the bottom of the pile whilst the rest of the UK benefits from proper (i.e. non-pilot) investment. We have seen this already in the 2005 Exchange Activate scheme which, of course, was welcomed at the time. But, because this was implemented without a strategic plan for upgrades and future investment, those of us connected to an Exchange Activate exchanges are stuck with a woefully inadequate 512Kbps service and BT as the only Broadband supplier (When will BT’s monopoly at these exchanges be ended? No one seems to be able to tell me!) The much vaunted USC of 2Mbs (which was initially to be complete by 2011, then 2012 now 2015) is becoming a joke. The word “Commitment” in “Universal Service Commitment” should imply some sort of sticking to the original plan - not extending the deadline ad-infinitum! By 2015, 2Mbs will be as hopelessly inadequate as the 512Kbps service is today. What we need is some proper investment, planning and commitment to bring superfast broadband to the whole of Scotland. 20Mbs by 2015 not 2! The recent massive broadband outages in Scotland have shown how fragile BT's current network structure really is. I only hope that HIE and the other organisations involved come up with a proper strategy that uses the pilot to address both the backbone infrastructure and the long-term investment needed to connect EVERYONE in the Highlands to that backbone.

Francis Hawkings 19/11/2010

I hope that these funds can be used to bring and improve broadband on the islands as well as the mainland. For example, northwest Mull has a number of households which cannot get broadband from BT at all, and others where the delivered service is currently only around 200kb/s or so. I imagine that there are other parts of Mull and other islands that are in a similar position. The more isolated the community, the more useful decent broadband is.

Martin Mackay 10/01/2011

I live in Inverness (around 3 miles away from the Exhange) and I can barely get over 1Mb - on a line that should take 2Mb. Honestly - its broadband but only just. The poster that suggested Inverness was already well served should try living here! Its dreadful - on top of that we get regular disconnections. I have changed ISP serveral times and its just the quality of the line.

Stewart 09/02/2011

I read with interest the comments-I work for a major cable company in the central belt-I know the Inverness and Fort William areas well, having been in the RAF at Fort George and Lossiemeouth, and my dad coming from Glencoe. I am actively involved in broadband (we've just launched 100Mb/secs in parts of Greater Glasgow). I'm wiling to give some free time for HIE if your interested in what I do and know. Wireless sounds like your best option but I would be really interested in what HIE & BDUK have planned. If not,good luck in your endeavours! ;-)

tim 06/03/2011

I agree with stewart, radio broadband (not 2/3g cellular) looks like the best solution. Currently 100mb/s technology is available. We are in south kintyre too far from the exchange for broadband, so are using satellite, but it is not suitable for many applications, such as local hosting, skype, anything in fact which requires lower latency than the 750ms or so we currently have. A broadband radio mast on the west coast of Arran should cover almost all the east cost of mid/south kintyre. We would be signing up in a flash.

Dave 27/04/2011

Even 6 miles from Aberdeen we are also stuck with Up to 8mbs. Why BT couldn't have continued with the Up to 20 MB upgrade rather than putting all it's eggs into south of Dundee Fiber to the Cabinet. Whatever happened to WIMAX for reaching real remote areas? Obviously BT looking to get milllions from Edinburgh Govt then charge us a second time for the line costs AFTER we the taxpayer pay for the installatoin of Fiber around 2020 AT EARLIEST.

Steven Campbell 31/08/2011

My "broadband" is ateady at 350-420 K bits, no where near 1 Meg, never mind the "standard" two meg, its outrageous, as I pay the same as someone getting between 12-20 meg, then there is virgin broadband, kicking out 20-50 Meg with 97% of their customers reaching top speeds, when will the local exchange have some money invested in it????

Paul Mitchell 16/02/2012

Just moved back to Fort William from Aberdeen and im getting around 100kb/s... awesome... before in aberdeen was only getting around 700kb/s with sky broadband <- Up to 20 meg... Its a load crap honestly.... why should we pay the same as someone living with 8 meg + just because of our location and the decision being made that we are less important than the rest of the UK...

Rev Donald McCorkindale 30/03/2012

Getting 7Mbs in Strontian, PH36... with SKY Connect but it keeps dropping out and it fact renders it quite useless. SKY tell me that the reason for the dropping out is BT Openreach's Traffic Management policy... and that they cannot do anything about it. My problems have been deteriorating over the months... and so it seems that the supporting infrastructure cannot cope with increasing demand...

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