17th February 2018
Established 1872. Online since 1996.

Communities urged to move fast for share of improved broadband cash

0 comments, , by , in News

Small communities are being urged to act fast if they want to gain a share of a £5 million Scottish government financial package for improved broadband across the north of Scotland.

The money is being offered as part of a Community Broadband Scotland plan, which is aimed at helping rural community groups gain speedier internet connections. But demand for a slice of the relatively small pie is expected to be high.

Rural areas from throughout the Highlands and Islands will be eligible to apply for a share of the seed funding, which is being offered over three years.

A new telephone helpline and website offering advice and practical support will be available from October. A dedicated team of staff will also work to provide hands-on assistance to groups that are in need.

The scheme has been welcomed by Shetland Telecom’s Marvin Smith, although he said communities would need to act fast if they were going to be allocated a share of the money.

“It’s a welcome scheme but I think demand will be quite high, and I would urge any Shetland communities that think they might benefit from this to come forward with any ideas they might have.

“The scheme would be ideal for Shetland communities to get connected. But with a £5 million project over three years, and only £1 million up-front, demand will be quite high.”

Despite that, he said some community broadband projects could be achieved for less cash than many might think. He cited the recent scheme which was set up for Fetlar at a cost of just £50,000.

“I think the £5 million is obviously welcome. We do have a couple of community broadband projects in Shetland which are operational, and if any of this money could be used to replicate those systems then that would be great.”

Chief executive of Highlands and Islands Enterprise Alex Paterson welcomed the move.

“This is an important new initiative which will support communities and develop innovative solutions to bring fast, reliable broadband services to some of Scotland’s most rural locations.

“While there are challenges there can be significant economic and social benefits from improving broadband.

“The seed fund will provide the help communities need to ensure Scotland has a world-class digital network by 2020.”

Cabinet secretary for infrastructure and capital investment, Alex Neil, said: “Broadband should not be considered a luxury in rural areas in the Highlands; it is essential to enhance the quality of life and stimulate the growth of the local economy.”

Tags:

About Ryan Taylor

Ryan Taylor has worked as a reporter since 1995, and has been at The Shetland Times since 2007, covering a wide variety of news topics. Before then he reported for other newspapers in the Highlands, where he was raised, and in Fife, where he began his career with DC Thomson. He also has experience in broadcast journalism with Grampian Television. He has lived in Shetland since 2002, where he harbours an unhealthy interest in old cars and motorbikes.

View other stories by »

Your Comment

Please note, it is the policy of The Shetland Times to publish comments and letters from named individuals only. Both forename and surname are required.

Comments are moderated. Contributors must observe normal standards of decency and tolerance for the opinions of others.

The views expressed are those of contributors and not of The Shetland Times.

The Shetland Times reserves the right to decline or remove any contribution without notice or stating reason.

Comments are limited to 200 words but please email longer articles or letters to editorial@shetlandtimes.co.uk for consideration and include a daytime telephone number and your address. If emailing information in confidence please put "Not for publication" in both the subject line and at the top of the main message.

Win a £20 Voucher Complete our survey today
10 Winners will be drawn at random from completed entries
No thanks Take survey No thanks