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‘Go-getting’ rural Scottish communities get £100,000 to build own broadband network

Monday, June 22nd 2015 by Phil Wilkinson-Jones

Rural communities around a Scottish loch are to get improved broadband after being awarded more than £100,000 funding.

Around 350 people in more than 150 premises around Loch Tay in Perthshire will benefit from the new service.

Residents have been developing a community-led project with the aim of building their own broadband infrastructure.

The scheme, Loch Tay Internet, has been supported by Community Broadband Scotland (CBS), a Scottish Government initiative delivered by the Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).

This has led to CBS approving funding of £109,078, enabling residents to appoint wireless broadband provider AB Internet to deliver the project.

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 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 is the community’s way of overcoming high costs, technological and logistical problems that have previously hampered commercial broadband rollouts in the area.

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.

'Cable broadband was not an option'

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, is one of the people behind Loch Tay Internet.

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 landlines with many repairs in them meant cable broadband was not an option.”

Mr Simpson said many residents got satellite broadband in 2008 as part of a previous project, but this became “expensive for what we got” as their internet use grew.

“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,” he added.

“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.”

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