North Skye Broadband (NSB), established to provide benefit to communities on the Isle of Skye by building and operating ultra-fast broadband delivery networks, has issued a call to action.
NSB believes that provision of ultra-fast broadband is one of the most important economic benefits for the island since the opening of the Skye Bridge more than 20 years ago.
“We are deeply concerned about the Digital Clearances – the extent to which the lack of access to adequate and affordable broadband contributes to the population decline of fragile rural communities in Skye.” says Geoff Semler, NSB Chair.
“Very large telecoms and media companies that have sufficient financial and other resources to just set up better broadband where it doesn’t presently exist have no intention whatsoever to do so in our communities – as far as they are concerned, they know that they won’t make any profit if they do.
"However, that is where NSB’s strength is… if no-one else is going to do this, then Skye communities must step forward. Together we can build a world class broadband service that is future- proof, and as good as – or better! – than is provided elsewhere.”
NSB expects to follow examples of other rural communities that have successfully delivered affordable “Fibre to the Premises” (FTTP) solutions. Achieving the delivery of an Ultra-fast network on Skye will be an uphill task, but is one that NSB sees as a journey for the whole island, and not as a single achievement. That “journey” involves four phases: (1) planning, (2) contracts, (3) core build, and (4) consolidation and extension. And, for all four phases, community support is needed.
As the project now moves from the consultation phase into one of participation, community organisations, individuals and businesses are being called upon to assist in the delivery of these stages. The Phase 1 Planning Stage is set to begin in April 2017.
Project manager Elgar Finlay points out “This planning is critical to the project. We need help to. check and update the data about all the properties in the project area that we have against local knowledge for accuracy, as this will inform the final design and cost of the project.
Our network design requires us to establish high-capacity links to local homes and businesses in North Skye by laying optical fibre underground. This is the most expensive part of the capital works, so we need to make sure that we plan properly. The first steps involve listing accurately all the premises to which we could connect in the foreseeable future - we really don’t want to miss any properties out at this stage.”
Due to the limitations on public funding availability the North Skye Broadband project is currently focused in the North-West Skye and includes but is not limited to Glendale, Struan, Waternish and surrounding areas.