Scheme to give rural areas internet boost
NEARLY 300 homes and businesses in the Annandale East and Eskdale and nearly 500 in the Hawick and Hermitage wards will benefit from the Borders Broadband project.
The project has combined numerous community-led projects set up to deliver community-based superfast broadband to about 2,000 rural homes and businesses in the central and western Borders and parts of Dumfries and Galloway.
It has become one of the biggest projects of its type in Scotland and its combined area is now eligible for a substantial grant, of more than £1m from Community Broadband Scotland (CBS).
The grant, together with local contributions, would cover the cost of building a nextgeneration broadband network to deliver superfast services to areas where commercial providers do not plan to go.
As part of the initiative, Borders Broadband has launced a website at http://bordersbroadband.org which gives information and opportunities to follow, join in, speak up and help out.
Callum Hay, board chairman, said: “Far too many people in rural areas find their broadband service so limited it’s almost useless for everyday life in the digital 21st century.
"Simple things which many of us take for granted, like using modern IT systems to work from home, watching Netflix or BBC iPlayer or using Skype to contact friends and family simply aren’t possible because their internet connection is so poor.
"CBS has completed a market consultation (state aid public consultation) which has cleared the way for public funds to be used to help us build a community-owned rural broadband network.
"In the next few months we plan to do a detailed option appraisal to help us decide the best solution for our needs. We can choose to work with CBS or opt to wait for the Scottish government’s national R100 programme to deliver a solution or raise private funding."
Pip Tabor of the Southern Upland Partnership and board member, said: “If we don’t plan to deliver good, fast, reliable broadband services for our rural communities, they’ll become more disadvantaged compared with the rest of Scotland.
“The very existence of our rural businesses may soon depend on fast internet connections being available so we need to take action now”
“The website gives more information, a detailed question and answer section and details of the people who work behind the scenes to help make this happen.
"It includes a postcode checker so you can see whether you’re covered by our project and a registration page. We’d encourage readers in the project area to sign up so we can send them more information and newsletters about how the project is developing.
"If there are any volunteers who can help us with PR and communications work or putting together grant applications, we’d love to hear from them; there’s a section for them on the website.
“CBS is making a substantial contribution to the costs of building the network but we would welcome benefactors who could help with our start-up and operating costs."
People can contact Borders Broadband at firstname.lastname@example.org