A group of communities in the north of Shetland have been working together with CBS, exploring the potential of bringing high speed connectivity to remote and rural North Isles communities in Shetland – including the northernmost inhabited island in Scotland! The project is being led by Unst Partnership Ltd, Fetlar Developments Ltd, and Northmavine Community Development Company, with involvement from a number of other community trusts and community councils.
Community scoping work has been completed and the partnership have just gone out to tender (with the tender process closing on 7th February 2014) for a technical options appraisal, funded by CBS.
The project initially covered the North Isles – Unst, Yell and Fetlar. In recent months the scope of the project has expanded. When CBS received an enquiry from a North Roe resident, we got in touch with Northmavine Community Development Company. They were already investigating the potential for a community broadband scheme, and had undertaken some community engagement work. Given the proximity to the North Isles project, and the potential benefits of economies of scale – all involved agreed it would make sense for the technical options appraisal to look at Northmavine as well! In addition to this, discussions took place with Out Skerries about the benefit of their community also being considered in the technical options appraisal.
The project has potential for in excess of 800 connections. The group are ambitious – they know the impact improved connectivity could have for their communities. They have aspirations to be able to offer world class next generation speeds to all premises in their target areas, with an aim of encouraging the development of new business and employment opportunities, and allowing better access to online learning and digital media services.
“The need for a faster and more reliable broadband service is crucial for the Isles. We need a long term solution - by working together we hope to secure access to better broadband, and essential online services, for our remote and fragile communities.“
Verona Shaw, Local Development Officer, Unst Partnership.