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Broadband In The Highlands - Update

Posted: 03rd Jul, 2003 By: MarkJ
This is one for all our Scottish readers. One of our readers, Paul, has sent us an e-mail that he recently received from the Highlands & Islands Enterprise (HIE) regarding the status of broadband Internet access:

I can confirm that the information you received today is indeed true. HIE has been successful in putting together a package of £2.6mln (£1.3mln from ERDF) for the purpose of rolling out wireless broadband to 50 communities before April next year. And this is only the beginning; we intend to go back to ERDF in April to get more funding for another 50 communities.

This project was publicly announced earlier this year, and is a part of HIE's large scale strategy to try to availability of consumer broadband services to at least 95% of the population in the Highlands and Islands.

We currently have put wireless broadband in five communities in the HIE area, with one more to come online in the next few weeks. The purpose of these networks is to fine tune the proposed process of implementation, which involves a newly formed non for profit company, who will be responsible for the actual implementation of the programme.

We're currently in the first stage of an OJEU tender procedure for the purpose of selecting the contractors that are going to install the equipment. The contracts are scheduled to be awarded after completion of the OJEU procedure shortly after the start of October this year.

Our wireless project is only one of a number of activities. We don't expect that we will see a single technology being rolled out everywhere. This is because each of the technologies has specific abilities and shortcomings, which make it technically and financially more or less suitable for specific types of communities. It is therefore that, wireless broadband has been reserved for the most remote and sparsely populated areas, where demand will never exceed levels that are going to attract any other form of commercially available broadband such as ADSL or Exchange Activate (or "mini" ADSL if you wish to call it that).

In Aviemore, for instance, there is too much demand to justify using the use of wireless. It makes much more sense for us to convince telcos to implement a copper (exchange) based solution, which is exactly what we are doing right now.

We agree that there has recently been a lack of new information from us with regards to the broadband developments in the HIE area. But this is going to change very soon, in a few weeks we are going to put up a "broadband latest" section on this website. We intend to update that section fortnightly.
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