Remote Highland homes get “ultrafast” broadband

House in and around Achnasheen in Ross-shire will benefit from the 'ultrafast' broadband with hopes the service will attract people and job opportunities to the area. PIC: www.geograph.org.uk
House in and around Achnasheen in Ross-shire will benefit from the 'ultrafast' broadband with hopes the service will attract people and job opportunities to the area. PIC: www.geograph.org.uk
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More than 100 homes in scattered Highland communities are due to benefit from “ultrafast” broadband by the end of the year.

Openreach said around 140 homes from Achnasheen to Aultguish in Ross-shire, north-west of Inverness, will be upgraded.

It is hoped the new service will attract people and job opportunities to the area.

Homes in remote communities such as Achanalt, Lochluichart, Corriemoillie, Little Garve, Gorstan, Grudie and Inchbae will be among those seeing significant increases in their broadband speeds, the firm said.

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The new network started to go live this week, with about 90% of premises in Achnasheen now able to order a service.

The project comes after a year of research by the voluntary group Garve and District Broadband (GDB), which looked at all the options for delivering broadband in the rural location and concluded that a full-fibre network was the best option.

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Steve Jones, spokesman for the community, said: “Like many residents I’ve only been getting very slow speeds capped at 0.5Mbps, making even the most basic of online activities difficult and frustrating, so looking forward to ultrafast speeds is fantastic.

“Fast, reliable broadband will bring huge potential to regenerate our scattered communities. It’s a prerequisite for attracting families and businesses to the area, where the population has fallen in recent years.

“People now expect good internet as a basic. In essence, it will help us to build a closer and more integrated community.”

Two-thirds of the properties are to receive fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) technology from the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband programme, led in the area by Highlands and Islands Enterprise, while the remaining households are getting a full-fibre upgrade through a community partnership with Openreach.

Robert Thorburn, Openreach partnership director for Scotland, said: “The challenges facing the Garve and District communities were phenomenal and they’ve worked incredibly hard to develop a unique solution.”

He added: “We’re making good progress and we’re excited to announce today that the very first residents in Achnasheen can now place their orders with their chosen service provider. We expect to complete work by the end of this year.”