Scottish community broadband network gets funding to expand

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The Locheilnet Community Interest Company, Scotland’s largest community-run broadband network, has been awarded a grant of £42,000 by Highlands and Islands Enterprise’s (HIE’s) Community Broadband Scotland (CBS) initiative to upgrade its core network, improving capacity and covering new customers.

The network currently supports 400 customers with download speeds of over 20Mbps.

While not the fastest available on the market, these speeds are substantially quicker than what would ordinarily be available in such a remote area.

Set up in 2012 by local volunteers to cover the area in the Lochaber area, which lies slightly to the west of Fort William, the wireless network has already grown to encompass a much wider area, stretching along the A830 as far west as Glenfinnan – home of the famous viaduct used as a filming location for the Harry Potter films.

“Locheilnet, which is a not-for-profit group, was set up by people who knew first-hand the difficulties of living with poor broadband speeds,” said CBS’ Calum Stiven.

“They are a leading example of what a community can achieve for themselves and others. We’re delighted this investment will support them to expand, bringing the benefits of better broadband to more people in the Lochaber area.”

Locheilnet plans to use its cash injection to install two new masts at new locations, and extend superfast services to the hamlets of Kilmalieu and Tulloch.

“We already provide a robust, fast broadband service to almost 400 rural householders and businesses. This funding will allow us to serve some of our even more remote areas,” said Locheilnet chair Jackie Wright.

“We’re hoping that during the summer we will have statutory permissions in place and start work on getting the infrastructure built.

“I’d particularly like to thank people in the community who have helped to plan the project, and also to the landowners in each area who are very supportive,” she said.

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