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Scottish villages sign deal to get 'top notch' wireless broadband

Monday, July 20th 2015 by Phil Wilkinson-Jones

A rural Scottish community is to get “top notch” internet access thanks to a partnership between volunteers and a local broadband provider.

A wireless broadband service will deliver superfast speeds to more than 250 homes and businesses in the Humbie and Fala areas of East Lothian and Midlothian.

The project has been developed by Humbie Lammermuir Community Enterprise (HLCE), a not-for-profit company with the aim of improving community infrastructure in the Humbie area.

HLCE made installing superfast internet its first priority and last week signed an agreement with wireless provider Lothian Broadband (LBN).

Frank Kirwan, HLCE director, said: “High speed internet access for our community represents a great boost economically and socially – and we would recommend that other communities similarly lacking broadband explore what specialists such as LBN can bring.

“We are delighted to contract with LBN to build and operate a top notch broadband network for the Humbie area.”

LBN managing director Ian Smith added: “This is another landmark for LBN, representing the first of many similar projects we hope to undertake on behalf of communities in East Lothian and beyond.”

'Potential to transform'

Following the success of a pilot project providing a wireless service to a handful of houses in 2013, the community started to look at how a network could be extended to cover the whole of the Humbie and Fala areas.

Residents sought help and advice from Community Broadband Scotland (CBS), the part of the Highlands and Islands Enterprise tasked by the Scottish Government to work with communities unlikely to benefit from the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband rollout.

The feasibility of a community network was established by a CBS-funded network design and resulted in a grant of £152,000 from CBS together with funding from the Dunlaw Extension Community Benefit Trust.

Bob Murison, CBS advisor for the area, said: “We have worked very closely with the local community who have a highly motivated group of volunteers.

“Their commitment and dedication will see this access to faster, more reliable broadband become a reality.

“With previous broadband speeds of less than 2Mbps, the new network has the potential to transform how the local community live, work and learn.

“The project also paves the way for further work locally, and CBS is liaising with East Lothian Council to look at broadband options for those in harder-to-reach areas.”

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