HIE Consults Public On Broadband Coverage
With the rollout of superfast broadband across the Highlands and Islands looking set to begin next year, the region's development agency is launching a public consultation on current levels of service.
Highlands and Islands Enterprise is asking broadband providers to confirm any plans they may have to upgrade to superfast, and seeking information from local people and businesses about the quality of their current service.
HIE aims to ensure that superfast broadband - delivering speeds of 30 megabits per second (Mbps) or more - is available to everyone in the region by 2020, with significant progress made by 2015.
Last month, the Scottish Government announced a £120m investment package to back the agency's ambitions.
HIE is also seeking co-investment from the private sector, as well as local authorities and the European Union, and has estimated that the total project cost may exceed £200m.
Negotiations between the enterprise agency and BT, as the potential industry partner, are well advanced, following a competitive tender exercise launched last year.
Assuming a successful conclusion, the partners' first action will be to agree a definitive plan of how the region should benefit from the first phase of superfast rollout, starting in 2013.
Last year, HIE published a provisional list of 50 settlements, located throughout the region, which appeared to offer the best potential to introduce the service quickly to a mix of remote mainland and island communities and larger centres.
The present consultation aims to test the accuracy of the information HIE currently holds about current and future broadband provision, and inform discussions leading to a detailed rollout plan.
Stuart Robertson, the agency's Head of Digital, says it is vitally important that such a huge investment is carefully targeted to achieve best value and impact.
"This is probably the largest rural broadband project anywhere in Europe at present," he said.
"We've been very successful so far in securing a substantial amount of the funding we need to make it happen. Now we want to make sure we have the most up to date information, both from customers and suppliers, to inform final decisions on rollout.
"It's important we know where private providers are considering investing in upgrades so we can ensure there's no risk of duplication.
"At the same time, we want members of the public to let us know if the information we hold on current provision is accurate, particularly with regard to download and upload speeds."
Broadband is currently available to around 99 per cent of the Highlands and Islands population. However, average speeds are well below the UK average of 7.6Mbps, with many places only capable of receiving a maximum 0.5Mbps.
HIE's project will make 2Mbps the minimum speed available anywhere in the region by 2015, with most places experiencing a much faster service.
The Highlands and Islands covers more than half of Scotland, yet is home to just eight per cent of the country's population, so the private sector could not be expected to deliver superfast broadband without significant public investment.
For more information, and to take part in the consultation, which runs until 13 August, please visit www.hie.co.uk/digital/consultation.html
Food and drink businesses across the Highlands and Islands and within the Cairngorms National Park area have just days left before the deadline to enter the regionâ€™s largest and most prestigious food and drink industry awards. As the Wednesday, 23 April deadline approaches for entries for this yearâ€™s Highlands & Islands Food & Drink Awards, sponsored by Gordon & MacPhail and Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), organisers are calling on the areaâ€™s food and drink businesses to make sure they donâ€™t miss the closing date.
Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) is delighted to announce Natural Retreats, a specialist leisure and travel company, as the new operator of Cairngorm Mountain, taking effect in June 2014. Natural Retreats are renowned for offering customers and guests high quality tourism based experiences in some of the most dramatic natural locations around the world.
Highlands and Islands businesses are at the forefront of showcasing Scottish food and drink in Singapore as part of two international events. Eight companies from the region are part of an 18 strong Scottish delegation participating in a trade mission to Singapore on 6-10th April in a bid to crack one of the worldâ€™s wealthiest economies.
he marine energy sector is to benefit from Â£6 million in funding to further develop testing of new wave and tidal energy prototypes in the seas around Scotland. Scottish Enterprise is launching the third round of the remaining competitive funding from the initial WATERS fund in collaboration with Highlands & Islands Enterprise.
Wick Harbour Authority is making progress with its plans to create a heavy-lift facility on the commercial quay at Wick harbour, with contractors Gunns Lybster Ltd having now begun the work. The project, and its associated dredging works, was supported by CNSRP partners HIE and NDA respectively and is the first of several proposed phases of work to position the harbour as a key player in the energy sector, with the current focus being on potential to benefit from the development of Offshore Wind in the Moray Firth.
Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) Chief Executive Alex Paterson has been visiting a Thurso factory where two battery manufacturing firms are powering ahead under new ownership. HIE has supported the smooth change-over for new investors at AGM Batteries and ABSL Power Solutions, which were previously owned by US-based multinational Enersys Inc.
The first residential course for the ScotGrad Graduate Placement Programme in the Highlands and Islands took place this week. The 18 graduates who attended the tailored business skills course are employed to work on innovative projects by organisations across the area.
Highlands & Islands Food & Drink: A cause for celebration as 2014 awards open for entry. Closing Date for entries - Wednesday, 23rd April 2014 Organisers of the Highlands & Islands Food & Drink Awards (HIFDA) are starting 2014 on an upbeat and positive note as they prepare to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the prestigious awards.
A historic north-east fishing community is the first location in Scotland to become superfast broadband enabled as part of a Â£410m publicly-funded project. Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon today (Tuesday 18 February 2014) announced that the first cabinet bringing next generation broadband services to rural Scotland is now live in the Moray town of Buckie.
A new innovation centre for industrial biotechnology (IB) is forecast to increase IB related turnover to up to £3 billion by 2030, create 1500 jobs within five years and put Scotland at the forefront of a global transformation. Funded by the Scottish Funding Council and supported by Scottish Enterprise and Highlands & Islands Enterprise, the new Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre (IBioIC) – hosted at the University of Strathclyde – is a key element of the National Plan for Industrial Biotechnology – Towards a Greener, Cleaner 2025.
[Printer Friendly Version]