Digital and broadband

Two HIE teams win national UK awards

Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) enjoyed major awards success at two separate UK ceremonies on Thursday night (13 October) for our pioneering role in delivering next generation broadband.

HIE enjoyed major awards success at two separate UK ceremonies on Thursday night (13 October) for our pioneering role in delivering next generation broadband.

The Digital Highlands and Islands team was announced the winner of the prestigious Economic Development Award at the O2 NextGen Digital Challenge Awards ceremony held in the House of Lords.

The accolade reflects HIE's success, together with Digital Scotland, in leading a £146m investment into fibre broadband infrastructure across the region, with 84% of premises due to reached by the end of 2016. Judges noted that, in 2013, only 4% of Highlands and Islands homes and businesses had access to fibre optic broadband.

Community Broadband Scotland (CBS) also enjoyed success with two of its projects, Loch Tay Internet and Marykirk.com, who were announced the winner and the runner-up respectively in the Rural Connectivity category.

Loch Tay Internet recognised that action was required to address poor broadband services in a rural and scattered community in Perthshire. CBS funding has enabled the group to build a network infrastructure that is expected to benefit 350 people in more than 150 premises.

After rolling out a successful pilot network to address poor connectivity in the area of Marykirk, Mearns Internet Initiative (marykirk.com) approached CBS for help and advice to expand to a wider area. CBS funding allowed the group to develop a resilient and sustainable broadband network to serve over 140 properties.

In a night of awards, another CBS-supported project, Locheilnet, was announced runner-up in the Social Enterprise/Community Project of the Year category at the Rural Business Awards ceremony in the West Midlands.

Started by a small group of community representatives, Locheilnet has grown to provide broadband services to over 300 premises in areas around Loch Eil, Loch Linnhe and Loch Lochy. The network has transformed community life and as a result, both businesses and individuals are able to fully explore the opportunities that connectivity brings.

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