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Isle of Skye communities launch superfast broadband project

Wednesday, April 8th 2015 by Phil Wilkinson-Jones

A community group is planning to bring superfast broadband to a remote area of Scotland.

The North Skye Community Broadband project’s first aim is to prove there is demand for speeds of 24Mbps or faster in the Isle of Skye communities of Glendale, Duntulm and Waternish.

It will then focus on the installation of a ‘robust and reliable’ broadband network capable of delivering superfast speeds.

The areas in question are not being covered by BT’s commercial rollout, which will tackle some of the more densely populated areas of the Scottish highlands and islands.

The community project is being led by the Glendale Trust, which promotes rural regeneration in areas of social and economic deprivation on the Isle of Skye.

It is supported by Community Broadband Scotland, a Scottish Government project led by the Highlands and Islands Enterprise which aims to deliver superfast broadband to some of the hardest-to-reach areas of rural Scotland.

Elgar Finlay is leading the project on behalf of the Glendale Trust’s Broadband Working Group.

He said: “It is clear that if the remote parts of Skye wish to remain sustainable they must keep pace with the provision of vital services.

“Proper superfast broadband is essential for these communities, if we don’t take action now we will quite simply miss out.

“This project offers a huge opportunity to have vital state of the art robust infrastructure delivered. It will be exciting to see the communities in each of these areas working together to meet the needs of the businesses and individuals of North Skye.”

Wireless networks

Members of the community are being asked to complete a questionnaire to helps establish levels of interest in the project and three public meetings will take place later this month.

The meetings all start at 7.30pm will be at Waternish Community Hall on 28 April, the Kilmuir Community Hall in Duntulm on 29 April and in the Glendale Hall on 30 April.

Information can also be found on the North Skye Broadband Facebook page.

Similar community broadband projects have already begun on the Isles of Mull, Iona, Colonsay, Luing, Lismore, Jura, Craignish and parts of Islay.

In Perthshire, small-scale mobile masts are being used to create a wireless network capable of producing speeds up to 20Mbps.

Cable.co.uk reported last month that a pilot project will initially link the villages of Amulree, Trochry and Struan.

Shaun Marley of Community Broadband Scotland said: “This project will open up access to homes and businesses locally who have been finding it difficult to carry out even the most basic of online tasks.

“Better broadband will create new opportunities and benefits and allow people to choose to live, work and learn in what is a beautiful part of the Perthshire countryside.”

Project officer Bruce Patterson said the Highland Perthshire Communities Partnership’s ambition was to turn “the whole of Highland Perthshire” into a wi-fi zone.

He said the partnership will be a community business, with all profits being poured back into the business and the community.

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