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Nicola Sturgeon praises Scottish community broadband project

Wednesday, November 25th 2015 by Ellen Branagh

Scotland’s first minister has praised a community-led project to bring better broadband to premises in East Lothian and Midlothian.

Nicola Sturgeon congratulated the Humbie & Lammermuir Community Enterprise (HLCE) for its work in providing better broadband for homes and businesses in Humbie, Fala and neighbouring areas.

Connections to the first 12 homes in Humbie are the start of what could be up to 250 connections across the area, which has been struggling with download speeds of less than 2Mbps.

The wireless community broadband project, funded by £152,000 from Community Broadband Scotland (CBS), is the first venture to be delivered by the not-for-profit community company, which aims to improve infrastructure in the area.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon congratulated the project ahead of the Scottish Rural Parliament's Rural Summit in Musselburgh.

She said: "Our rural communities make a crucial contribution to Scotland and improving digital connectivity doesn't just boost economy opportunities, it transforms the way people live, work and learn, particularly in remote and rural Scotland.

"The HumbieNET project in East Lothian is a good example of the work that Community Broadband Scotland is taking forward throughout the country to bring broadband to homes and businesses in hard-to-reach communities.

“With each project, CBS is extending Scotland's growing broadband infrastructure, reaching further into these rural and remote areas, and this supports the Scottish Government's commitment to deliver world class connectivity."

CBS, part of Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), works with Scottish communities who are unlikely to benefit from the £410m Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband project, which aims to reach 95% of premises by 2017.

It helped the community assess the feasibility of a community network by funding network design work.

'Not a luxury'

The cost of the network has been supported by a £152,000 grant from CBS together with funding from the Dun Law Extension Community Benefit Trust. The wireless service is being delivered by local company Lothian Broadband Networks Limited (LBNL).

Engineers are currently building the new Humbie network consisting of an initial eight masts, with the build expected to be completed by the end of the year.

Al Beck, of HLCE, said: "Fast broadband is not a luxury. We need it to manage our finances, homes, health and businesses.

“We're delighted that this project will give our homes and businesses in this rural area, only 18 miles from Edinburgh, the same kinds of opportunities that other connected areas enjoy.

“We wouldn't be building the Humbie network without financial support from CBS and the Dun Law Trust.

"The Scottish Government's support for CBS is welcomed and as communities and public agencies work together on future community led broadband projects we're certainly happy to share our experiences to support easier access for all."

CBS director Zoe Laird added: "I'm delighted to see the first connections for this project which are testament to the hard work of the local community.

“There are further projects planned in this area and this milestone provides inspiration for others at an earlier stage of planning their projects.

“We know how transformational broadband can be for people's lives once they get connected and I'm so pleased to be able to help this community and look forward to helping many others in the future."

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