Community set to bring superfast broadband speeds to Highlands

Broadband Logo

 

Homes and businesses in Ullapool, Lochbroom, Little Lochbroom and Coigach are set to get superfast internet speeds thanks to a community funded broadband scheme, launched today.
 
Highland Community Broadband (HCB) has been formed by local residents with the help of Ullapool Community Trust (UCT) to make sure rural areas like Ullapool, Lochbroom, Little Lochbroom and Coigach can get better broadband. HCB aims to provide the service to people by early next year and plans to be financed solely by the local community.
 
‘Superfast broadband’
 
Developed and run by Highland Community Broadband, the service uses wireless technology rather than cables so it’s the same speed wherever the service is located. Around 650 connections will be managed by a local team, it was announced today. The project’s customer services will be run by local staff who will be trained to provide technical support.
 
Flick Hawkins, Chairman of Ullapool Community Trust, says, “We’re delighted that HCB will be providing broadband to these areas and the community is funding this and working together to create a reliable, affordable superfast broadband network.” “Many people had slow or non-existent broadband services and we will consign that to history. It’s really exciting.”
 
This scheme is being financed and run by the community and aims to connect 650 homes by July and 850 by the end of 2017. Highland Community Broadband opens to subscribers from Thursday 1st September 2016. It initially asks founding subscribers for their total yearly subscription costs and installation fee in advance to enable those who cannot afford the lump sum to subscribe once the network is built.
 
Building the infrastructure is estimated to take six months and it will begin in October this year. It is estimated to cost £153,350 and HCB needs to raise £75,000 to fund the first phase of the enterprise, which will cover the operating costs, and will extend the network with future revenues.
 
Download speeds
 
HCB will offer next generation access as a standard service with an unlimited downloads, up to 50Mbps download speed and up to 20Mbps upload speed. They will charge customers £25 per month with a one off £100 installation fee.  A low user tariff will also be available at £20 per month with one off £100 installation fee, at a later date. The roll-out will start in Ullapool, move on to Southern Lochbroom, Northern Lochbroom, Little Lochbroom (including Gruinard and The Coasts) and then move onto Coigach.
 
Highland Community Broadband intends to establish a technology hub and business incubator in the centre of Ullapool to capitalise on our new high speed broadband and hopes this will benefit the local community and businesses. Any subsequent profits from the scheme will be redistributed into community organisations. The project is based on other rural broadband schemes, including Skyenet in Skye, Applenet in Applecross and Locheilnet in Loch Eil. 
 
 
For further information please contact Nicholas Lampen:
 
Email: nick@hcbroadband.co.uk
 
Tel: 01854 633225 or 01854 613879 or 07768 038145 (but it doesn’t work very well here!)
 
Related links
 
 
 
 
 
Highland Community Broadband
Registered Office: UCT Hub, 28 Argyle Street, Ullapool, Ross-shire. IV26 2UB

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Summer News Letter

Early Summer News Letter

New Fundraising Shop

The many weeks of consultation, negotiation, grant applications and hard work have paid off and UCT have been able to secure funding to look at the possibility of a community hub with office space and an upcycling shop. It is hoped that the empty shop premises on the corner of Quay St and Argyll St, and opposite the historic town clock, will be a bustling hive of activity by early July.

The board are delighted to announce that Stage 1 funding has been secured from the Scottish Land Fund, enabling the lease of the property for six months whilst conducting feasibility studies into the possibility of purchasing the premises for the community. It will enable UCT, Lochbroom Wood Fuels and Broompower (the community hydro scheme) to have a strong, accessible presence in the centre of the village whilst providing a much-needed fundraising shop for pre-loved and upcycled items with the potential for other innovative and imaginative ventures.

UCT have heard many representations lamenting the many empty shopfronts and the visual impact this apparent lack of life has on locals and visitors alike. It was also clear from the reaction to the closing of the Blythswood outlet that a fundraising shop was very high on the list of locals’ priorities. UCT are, therefore, looking forward to this new and exciting development and hope it will be widely supported.

New Engagement Officer

Interviews are being held this week to appoint a new UCT Community Engagement Officer. Both Tina Hartley and Lee Heaney, the UCT Project Officers, are leaving and UCT would like to thank them sincerely for all their hard work, commitment and expertise and to wish them well in their future careers.

Broom Power

Meanwhile, the case for Broompower, the community hydro scheme at Lael, is strengthening daily as Lochbroom Community Renewables announce a dramatic increase in Community Share sales with £118,000 of shares now sold. The full £900,000 need to be raised by the end of August in order for the project, which already has planning consent and FiT pre-accreditation, to receive the green light to go ahead. This would provide a source of clean energy and a dependable income stream for community projects. The shares scheme offers a secure return at 4% and money can be withdrawn again between 5 and 15 years after the scheme is connected to the grid (anticipated date for completion is winter 2017/18). Many investors prefer to place their finance in safe, local schemes rather than distant, anonymous banks. For further information and details on investment opportunities please see LBCR’s website at www.broompower.org.

Broad Band

After a Public meeting about Community Broad band, we have set up a working group to look at how the areas not benefiting from the new super-fast fibre in Ullapool can access a suitable Broad band speed. A study visit to Knoydart is planned and a pilot project based on Broad band provision for the Lochside and Leckmelm is being investigated.

If you have any views, comments or questions on any of the above, or if you would like to become involved, please do contact UCT, your community trust.

 

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