Scottish communities form Highland Community Broadband to build rural wireless network

Thursday, September 1st 2016

Several rural Highland communities of Scotland are getting together to form the Highland Community Broadband (HCB), in order to build its own wireless network for superfast broadband (50Mbps) delivery around areas of Coigach, Little Locbroom, Lochbroom and Ullapool.

The HCB group will be financed by only the local communities and has been set up with Ullapool Community Trust's help. The group aims to provide the service by early next year and hopes to connect, by July of next year, some 650 households and 850 households by end of the same 2017.

HCB estimates, in its current plan, the cost to be £153,350 and most likely around 6 months to build the infrastructure. To cover the funding of the first phase with operating costs, HCB needs to raise £75,000 and will need further revenue to extend the network in future.

The project seeks the founding subscribers to commit in advance their annual subscription and installation fee once the infrastructure is built, to enable others who cannot afford the lump sum amount now to subscribe.  The first rollout will begin at Ullapool, before moving outwards to other surrounding areas. The new community wireless network aims to reach some of the most remote areas.

It is worth mentioning that BT's longest sub-sea fibre-optic cable runs in this area, between Stornoway and Ullapool, for 79km. Thus the operator has already installed a number of FTTC Street-Cabinets capable of up to 80Mbps. Apparently the service is to offer an up to 50Mbps (upload 20Mbps) capable service with unlimited usage, starting at £25 a month, plus £100 as one-off installation charge. At a later date, a lower tariff of £20 per month would be made available.

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