Highland Collaboration Helps Boost Rural Broadband Connectivity

Highland Broadband

Located in the West Highlands, Drimnin is home to just 57 properties, a whisky distillery and a post office.

Residents of a remote highland village are now able to access faster, more reliable broadband services following a collaboration between Scottish Sea Farms and local partners.

Located in the West Highlands, Drimnin is home to just 57 properties, a whisky distillery and a post office and has traditionally experienced poor connectivity issues due to an unreliable satellite connection.

Scottish Sea Farms launched a project to enable remote feeding at its salmon farms around the Sound of Mull – to be used during periods of turbulent weather. However, geographic challenges appear to have sparked the collaboration between the business and community.

Collaboration

Although Drimnin difficult to reach by land, it lies a short distance away from Tobermory. In order to improve the village’s internet access, proposals were lodged to use a complex system of wireless radio links and repeaters that operated on a frequency band of 23GHz ( to minimise interference).

Achieving this, however, required detailed cooperation between the organisation and the community, along with significant funding.

“Traditionally, a wireless radio link requires a direct line of sight, however, the exposed location of some of our farms, combined with the natural geography of the area meant this wasn’t an option,” according to Forbes Baylis, Senior IT Analyst and project leader for Scottish Sea Farms.

“Our proposed solution was to effectively ‘bounce’ the signal back and forth from different locations, but this was dependent on us securing permission to install the necessary masts and repeaters at the most suitable locations,” Baylis added.

Drimnin Community Broadband CIC, Baylis said, was “instrumental” in achieving the success of the project, reaching out to businesses in the village itself, along with those in Mull.

David Campbell, one of the CIC’s founding members, said: “Being in the middle of nowhere, Drimnin is the sort of community where we do lots of things for ourselves, but this particular project has been hugely popular with everyone in the village.

“The whole community pulled together to help make it happen.”

Securing Funding

In addition to securing permission and planning consents required for the project, the Drimnin organisation helped secure funding from a number of trusts and funds, including the National Lottery Fund, which awarded grants totalling £22,500.

Funding by the National Lottery Fund was also accompanied by grants from the Morvern Community Trust and a £55,000 contribution by Scottish Sea Farms.

The project has resulted in more than 40 of the village’s homes and businesses signing up in advance to a two-year subscription, which has enabled the community broadband group to place an order for its own 200mb leased line from BT and even start digging trenches for power cables.

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Drimnin is the second community to partner with Scottish Sea Farms in the past year, with the company having already collaborated with rural broadband company, HebNet CIC, to provide broadband for residents and businesses in Loch Nevis and Knoydart.

The firm said it is now in talks with a third remote community to explore the possibility of carrying out a similar project.

Jim Gallagher, Managing Director of Scottish Sea Farms, commented: “This latest connectivity project is another strong example of how we are continually investing in our farming practices but in a way that also delivers maximum benefit to the community in which we live and work.”



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