Lochaber, Skye and Wester Ross

Community broadband connecting south Skye communities

Communities in the south of Skye are working together to grow a local broadband network for the area.

Communities in the south of Skye are working together to grow a local broadband network for the area.

A wireless system being run by the community of Tarskavaig has now joined forces with Skyenet, a new wireless service which is providing better broadband to a number of the Sleat communities and Heaste.

Skyenet has been developed and is run by Sleat Community Trust, with support from Community Broadband Scotland (CBS) and the Rural Broadband Networks. The network went live in April and currently covers Aird, Achnacloich, Tokavaig, Ord, and Drumfearn. Services will be coming soon for Heaste.

Around 20 connections from Tarskavaig will now be managed by the local Skyenet team.

Skyenet is very much a community led project – as well as creating the network, their customer services are run by local staff from the Community Trust who have undergone IT-based customer support training. The network engineers are local firm MacPherson Electrical.

Angus Robertson, Sleat Community Trust manager, commented: “We’re delighted to be extending the network further. The communities are working together to create a reliable, affordable broadband network.

“Many customers in the project were just too far away from their exchange to see a useable broadband service. As well as providing better broadband now the network is future proofed. When access opens up to a fibre backhaul in Mallaig we plan to provide faster services – hopefully in the early part of next year.”

The new enterprise accelerated its planned roll-out to offer the much needed services to the community. Having built a twin looped network, and currently working off 13 masts, the target is to connect 75 premises by the end of the year and 100 into 2016.

Angus says they are also working with other groups developing projects nearby.
“There are a number of community led projects being developed, known as the west coast backbone. We are happy to be part of that, and to share our experiences. With help from the HIE’s Community Assets team we are hosting a seminar in November. It will look at how community projects can have a vital part to play in solving coverage in the most difficult broadband areas.”

Calum Stiven, an adviser at Community Broadband Scotland, commented: “It’s great to see Skyenet coverage growing in the south of Skye. Its wireless network offers flexible delivery, and opens up the benefits of better broadband to many people who thought they might never see a useable connection. The prospect that the next step for the network in the new year is that customers will be able to get better broadband speeds.”

If you live in the Sleat or Heaste areas and want to know more see here or call 01471 844 773

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