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Broadband and Digital Infrastructure

We are well connected in the Highlands and Islands.

Helping you connect 

Around 80% of homes and businesses, in more than 290 communities across every part of the Highlands and Islands, can access superfast broadband. 

Over the past five years, we have led the £146m Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband (DSSB) project which has built a fibre network for our region. Coverage stretches from North Roe in Shetland to Southend in Kintyre. 

It has dramatically changed access to good connectivity in our region - providing the core infrastructure needed to deliver domestic and commercial broadband, and making it possible for mobile operators to reach further with data services.  

The DSSB project is drawing to a close. It has reached more places than originally planned, partly through efficient delivery and also thanks to extra funding as a result of good take-up in the region. 

There is further to go to reach everyone. The Scottish Government has committed £600m for the next steps in its digital programme. BT has been selected as preferred bidder for the north lot of the Reaching 100% procurement, with a contract to be signed subject to due diligence. 

 

Check my broadband

Put your phone number or postcode into the Digital Scotland checker to find out if fibre is available to you..

Broadband checker

Coverage statistics

Interested in fibre coverage? ThinkBroadband is an independent website which has the latest figures at Scotland and local authority area level.

Local broadband coverage information
Buckie

Connected Communities network to close at end of March

Read the latest press release on the changes to the Connected Communities network.

End of era for ConCom wireless network

Connected Communities - your questions

After 15 years of delivering broadband to medical services, schools, homes and businesses in the Outer Hebrides, the ConCom wireless network is to close at the end of March. Find out here what's happening, what you can do if you're affected and how we can help.

What is Connected Communities?

Connected Communities is a publicly funded wireless broadband network which was developed by HIE in partnership with Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and NHS Western Isles.

It was introduced in 2005 to provide an industry standard network, capable of providing basic connectivity to vital island services including schools and health centres. It also provided services to home and business users across the islands who had no access to mainstream broadband. Internet services are provided by Hebrides.net

What’s changing?

The availability of fibre-optic broadband on the Outer Hebrides has changed dramatically.

Public sector premises are migrating to high speed services available through Scottish Wide Area Network (SWAN). More than eight out of ten homes and businesses can now order mainstream broadband. The need for Connected Communities has reduced significantly. 

Given this, and with the high cost of public subsidy for delivery and maintenance of the network, it’s no longer viable or effective to run the Connected Communities network with public funds. It will be discontinued at the end of March 2020.

Who will be affected and what alternative solutions exist?

There are around 500 remaining customers using the network.  There are options to consider for alternative connectivity:

Mainstream fibre broadband

  • Some existing customers may find they can order fibre broadband, but have not yet migrated. You can check availability on an online broadband checker hie.co.uk/broadband If available, you can use comparison websites to see the packages you can order with internet service providers.

In some areas fibre may not be available. Building on the Digital Scotland project, these areas are part of the Scottish Government’s £600m broadband project called Reaching 100% (R100). The project is in the final stage of procurement, and more detail on roll-out plans will be available after contract signing.

Other connectivity options

  • Many customers in more rural area who can get a 4G signal are using this to provide fast internet/wifi at home. Packages are increasingly competitive.
  • Satellite services.

Solutions for rural areas

  • Community Fibre Partnership
    If private funding is available, then communities can look at installing fibre based broadband (including fibre to the premises) through Openreach’s ‘ Community Fibre Partnership’ scheme https://communityfibre.openreach.co.uk/
  • The ‘Rural Gigabit Voucher scheme’ is a voucher scheme designed to help rural areas receive full fibre broadband. Details on this are here https://gigabitvoucher.culture.gov.uk/rural/
  • The Better Broadband Voucher Scheme is now closed for new voucher applications. On 20 March 2020 Ofcom will launch the broadband Universal Service Obligation to be delivered by BT and KCOM. Further details are available here.

 

We can’t recommend any specific operators, but if you need advice on what to do you can contact HIE’s digital team at hidigital@hient.co.uk

Did you look at alternatives to stopping the service?

Yes, we have tried to scale down the network and reduce costs as roll-out has progressed.

We have also looked at ways of reducing the high fixed costs or only switching off parts of the network but cannot find any cost-effective basis to continue.

What about the Universal Service Obligation?

The UK Government has confirmed that universal high speed broadband will be delivered by a regulatory Universal Service Obligation (USO), giving everyone in the UK access to speeds of at least 10 Mbps by 2020.

You can read more detail about the UK Government’s commitment to a regulatory USO here. 10Mbps is the speed that Ofcom, the independent regulator, says is needed to meet the requirements of an average family.

 

 

 

What will happen to the network equipment?

When the network is switched off we plan to remove equipment from mast sites, some of which are already decommissioned. Subscribers are encouraged to remove antennas from their properties and anyone having difficulty in doing this can contact us by email at hidigital@hient.co.uk to arrange removal.

The impact of the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband programme

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Broadband technology and the Digital Scotland roll-out

Want to know more about broadband infrastructure? Our FAQs have information on the public investments, the technologies, and on what's happening to ensure everyone can access good connectivity.

Broadband FAQs

The £146m fibre network investment has delivered a new age of communications across the region. High-speed broadband brings with it the potential to transform communities - changing how we do business, educate our children and deliver services.
Stuart Robertson, director of digital, HIE

Our region's first fully ultrafast island

Find out what impact superfast and ultrafast connectivity is having in the Outer Hebrides.

How connectivity changes lives
Grimsay Near Candles