Rural communities around Loch Tay in Perthshire are working together to create a new broadband service that will unlock social, economic and educational opportunities for the area.
Around 350 people in more than 150 premises are expected to benefit from the new service, which will provide internet speeds of up to ten times faster than previously available.
Community Broadband Scotland (CBS), a Scottish Government initiative being delivered by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), has been supporting the communities to develop a community led project that will provide transformational broadband to its residents and businesses.
This has led to CBS approving funding of £109,078 to enable the community to engage AB Internet to deliver Loch Tay Internet, a transformational community owned infrastructure.
Deputy First Minister, John Swinney, said: “The Loch Tay Internet project is a wonderful example of how rural communities can work together to secure funding that will bring real and tangible opportunities for their local area.
“The Community Broadband Scotland (CBS) initiative led by HIE is all about giving remote communities the tools to create broadband services that will transform the ways people can live, work and learn. This is another example of the Scottish Government’s commitment to deliver world class connectivity in Scotland by 2020, ensuring we are a world leading digital nation."
Loch Tay Internet overcomes the high costs, technological and logistical problems that have hampered commercial digital connection to the area in the past. It is also expected to appeal to people considering moving to Loch Tay.
Ardeonaig and Ardtalnaig Community Association, on the south side of the loch, set up Loch Tay Internet, with additional support from Killin Community Council and the Loch Tay Association. AB Internet will work with the communities to establish a fixed wireless solution to provide the faster service.
Phil Simpson of the Christian Trust, Abernethy, which runs a residential outdoor centre in Ardeonaig and four other outdoor centres and a bunkhouse in different parts of Scotland, has lived and worked in the area for more than 30 years. He is one of the people behind the Loch Tay Internet Project.
He said: “We have all experienced increasing use of the internet and the pressing need for a reliable and fast broadband service. When nothing materialised from commercial suppliers we soon realised that if we wanted anything better we would have to create it ourselves. The distance from the telephone exchange in Killin and copper land lines with many repairs in them meant cable broadband was not an option. Many of us got a satellite supply at the time of the Broadband Reach project in 2007-2008. This was OK but expensive for what we got and became less satisfactory as the internet use became more sophisticated.
“CBS helped us appoint a technical consultant and select AB Internet to install broadband and they helped us access funding for the project; something we just wouldn’t have been able to afford on our own. We certainly wouldn’t have got to where we are without this help and support. Progress is going well and we expect to have the project complete by the end of October.”
Mark Tate, director of CBS at HIE, added: “We are pleased to be supporting the go getting communities of Loch Tay, who have worked hard to improve their broadband provision. The project will deliver a real transformation in the way the community lives, works and learns. We have already seen this transformation in the 11 communities we have supported to deliver their own solutions right across Scotland.”
Community Broadband Scotland is a Scottish Government project led by HIE. It empowers remote and rural communities across Scotland to establish community broadband networks, delivering improved connectivity which will transform the way communities live, work and learn. It focuses on those areas least likely to benefit from the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband rollouts.