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Ullapool Communities in Scotland to Build Wireless Broadband Network

Thursday, September 1st, 2016 (2:03 am) - Score 930

Several rural Scottish Highlands communities around the Ullapool, Lochbroom, Little Lochbroom and Coigach areas have clubbed together in order to form the Highland Community Broadband (HCB), which aims to fund and build its own “superfast” (50Mbps capable) wireless broadband network in the area.

The HCB group, which has been setup with help from the Ullapool Community Trust (UCT), aims to provide the new service to people by early 2017 and will be financed solely by the local community. Overall around 650 homes could be connected by July 2017 and 850 by the end of 2017.

Under the current plan the new infrastructure is estimated to take around 6 months to build, beginning in October 2016. In terms of cost, HCB estimates a figure of £153,350 and they need to raise £75,000 to fund the first phase of the enterprise, which will cover both the operating costs and will extend the network with future revenues.

Part of this funding is expected to come from founding subscribers, who from today will be asked to commit 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.

The project is roughly based on other rural broadband schemes, including Skyenet in Skye, Applenet in Applecross and Locheilnet in Loch Eil.

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.”

Apparently the service itself will be an unlimited product that offers download speeds of up to 50Mbps and uploads of up to 20Mbps, with prices starting at £25 per month with a one off £100 installation fee. A low user tariff will also be available for £20 per month at a later date.

The initial roll-out will start in Ullapool before moving on to Southern Lochbroom, Northern Lochbroom, Little Lochbroom (including Gruinard and The Coasts) and then to Coigach. Homes in places like Elphin and Ledmore should also benefit, albeit more towards the final phase of deployment.

Any eventual profits from the service will apparently be redistributed via a Community Benefit Fund, assuming it reaches that point. HCB also intends to establish a technology hub and business incubator in the centre of Ullapool to capitalise on the new broadband service.

However it’s worth pointing out that Ullapool is also the landing site for one of BT’s longest single subsea fibre optic cable runs in the area (79km between Ullapool and Stornoway) and as a result the operator has already been able to build several ‘up to’ 80Mbps capable FTTC Street Cabinets in the small town, with more due to follow. But the new community network will also aim to reach some of the even more remote rural areas.

Leave a Comment
1 Response
  1. Avatar Optimist says:

    Good for them. I bet it’s more cost-effective than a BDUK scheme.

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