Long-awaited Loch Ness fibre broadband rollout gets underway
Fibre broadband has arrived in the Loch Ness town of Drumnadrochit as part of a long-awaited rollout in the area.
High speed fibre has gone live for homes and businesses in the first parts of the town, with more coverage expected in the coming week.
Over the next few months, the rollout is expected to reach around 1,300 homes and businesses in many of the villages around the loch.
The Loch Ness Centre and Exhibition, home to decades of multimedia records and research on the history of the famous loch, is one of the first local businesses to order the service.
It held an event today to mark the start of the rollout for the town – roughly 12 years after it hosted the announcement that Drumnadrochit was to be a pilot town for technology that allowed it to move from dial-up services to ‘always-on’ ADSL broadband.
Managing director Robbie Bremner 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.”
The arrival of fibre services at Loch Ness forms part of the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband rollout, led in the area by the Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).
Scotland's deputy first minister John Swinney said: "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.
“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.”
Where services are available, customers will have to order as they won’t be automatically upgraded. People can check availability at the HIE website.
Carroll Buxton, HIE’s director of regional development, said: “This is the start of the rollout 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.”
The HIE has admitted that the Loch Ness fibre rollout will not reach everyone in the area.
Stuart Robertson, HIE’s director of digital, previously said: “There are communities where numbers are currently too small, or homes are too dispersed for us to provide a viable solution.”
He said they would continue to look at ways to reach more people and consider alternative technology where needed.
Locals in Loch Ness previously warned that ”slow or non-existent” broadband in the area was driving locals and tourists away.
Andy Holt, who runs a business from his home in Inverfarigaig on the south-east shore of the loch, told Cable.co.uk the best broadband speed most people in the area can get is about 0.5Mbps.
But following today’s announcement about the first parts of Drumnadrochit being connected, local MP Drew Hendry said it would help eliminate the “digital divide”.
He said: “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.”
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