Nessie spotters capturing images of the elusive beastie will now be able to upload their results in superfast time, as high speed fibre broadband goes live for homes and businesses in the first parts of Drumnadrochit.
One of the first local businesses to order is the award winning Loch Ness Centre and Exhibition. It is home to decades of multi-media records and research charting the history and culture of the world's most famous Loch, its mysteries and its people.
The new technology will deliver download speeds of up to 80 Mbps* and the Loch Ness Centre and Exhibition, already a multi-media experience is host today (Thursday October 1) to an event marking the start of roll-out for the town.
The new fibre access is part of the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband project which is being led in the region by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE). Work on the ground is being carried out by Openreach, the local network division of private sector partners BT. Funding is coming from the Scottish Government and Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) as well as HIE and BT.
Deputy First Minister John Swinney commented: "It’s great to see superfast services coming through for Drumnadrochit and well ahead of the end of year timescale for the first Loch Ness communities. The opportunity to order new services opens up a wide range of benefits for those who live, work, study and visit this amazing location.
“Every day we are connecting communities in Scotland’s most dramatic landscapes - supporting the Scottish Government’s commitment to deliver world class connectivity for Scotland by 2020.”
The new fibre-based broadband is being delivered in Drumnadrochit through green street cabinets. Two of these are now live and customers can order through their internet service provider now.
More coverage in the town is coming through within weeks and the roll-out will continue over the coming months to reach around 1,300 homes and businesses in many of the Loch Ness villages. Customers can check availability on an interactive checker.
The Loch Ness Centre and Exhibition is continually striving for ways to improve the product and now, with the availability of high speed broadband, will be able to put some of its exciting new ideas to the test .
Robbie Bremner, Managing Director, said: "We are delighted to be one of the first local businesses to welcome superfast broadband through the door in Drumnadrochit. The improved speed and connectivity will be a huge benefit to the business operation both on the front line, allowing us to become a fully digital multi-media experience and also behind the scenes providing faster internet access for our offices and visitors alike.
Carroll Buxton, HIE’s Director of Regional Development, said: “This is the start of roll-out for Loch Ness. Over the coming months we will see services coming through for many premises in Dochgarroch, Dores, Foyers, Glenmoriston, and Glenurquhart. We are continuing to work with Openreach planners to reach even further in 2016.
“Where services are available customers have to order as they won’t be automatically upgraded. You can use the checker and when available you can order through an internet service provider.”
Around twelve years ago the Loch Ness Centre and Exhibition also hosted the announcement that Drumnadrochit was to be a pilot town for the latest rural technology trial which allowed it to move from dial-up services to ‘always-on’ ADSL broadband.
BT NGB Programme Manager for the Highlands and Islands, Robert Thorburn, said: “It is fantastic that the first community around Loch Ness is able to order fibre broadband; enabling them to exploit and maximise the opportunity and subsequent benefit that it can bring homes, businesses and the thousands of visitors coming to the area.”
Drew Hendry MP, said: “The Scottish Government has set out an ambition for Scotland to be a world-leading digital nation by 2020 and I am delighted that Drumnadrochit will be the first of many Loch Ness communities to have the new fibre-based broadband. Here on Loch Ness, we have a thriving tourism sector and an engaged and active community. The work of the HIE and Community Broadband Scotland will ensure that they no longer have to suffer the digital divide that currently exists. “
Highland Council Leader Cllr Margaret Davidson commented: “I am very pleased to be here today to celebrate the success of the investment of the Scottish and UK governments, HIE and BT. This will be a step forward for everyone in the villages and a huge opportunity for the businesses. There are of course many people in the surrounding hills and glens who need to be our next focus. Highland Council wants to see decent broadband and mobile coverage for all in Highland and sooner rather than later. There are good opportunities to progress that now.”
*When connected premises could have direct access to download speeds of up to 80 Mbps. These are the top wholesale speeds available from Openreach to all service providers; speeds offered by service providers may vary. Speeds will also vary depending on the distance from the cabinet.
There are communities in the region, and indeed around the Loch, where numbers are currently too small, or homes are too dispersed for us to provide a viable fixed wire solution. We continue to look for solutions as technology improves, as more funding comes through for future phases, and with the support of Community Broadband Scotland who can help areas unlikely to be reached to consider alternative technology options.