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Gigabit community network for Strathspey

By Tom Ramage

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Homes and businesses across Strathspey are being offered the chance to connect to a new broadband service that promises “up to gigabit-capable speeds of connection”.

The service, centred at this stage on Grantown, is being rolled out across a number of areas in Scotland and is being delivered by partners behind the UK & Scotland’s only Digital Improvement District.

The first step sees a community registration site that’s being launched for Strathspey, giving residents and businesses the opportunity to express their interest in “ultra-fast broadband”.

Richard Watson of Destination Digital said: “Everyone should be aware of ‘super-fast’. It has been the broadband industry’s standard for a decade, delivering around 30Mbps.”

He added: “Many have access to this, but hundreds of thousands of addresses across Scotland are still unable to connect at this basic speed. We want to help, and we have the expertise and technology to do so.”

Colleague Simon Baldwin explained: “Our company has unrivalled experience in digital communication and infrastructure. This new offering is based on our research and understanding of the need for improved digital connectivity ... a need that has been highlighted as never before by the restrictions all have faced through 2020’s challenges.”

The new service recognises the increased demand for bandwidth and, as a result, will deliver 30Mbps - upload and download - as “the most basic offering”.

The Grantown Society's evocative logo: now the town is to be the hub of a major new connectivity scheme
The Grantown Society's evocative logo: now the town is to be the hub of a major new connectivity scheme

John Halliday of The Grantown Society celebrated: “We are absolutely thrilled that Destination Digital are progressing with their exciting plans for Grantown and Strathspey.

"We have worked with their team for almost three years on plans for digital support. It has been a long time coming, but we can see the considerable opportunities their service will offer to homes and businesses across Strathspey.”

He went on: “If anyone in and around our area wants improved broadband, this is our chance. We very much hope everyone takes the opportunity to register for gigabit-capable broadband via the project’s portal.

"The service will only be able to help those who do - so we urge all to share this information with local friends and family so no one misses out."

“Gigabit-capable broadband is the ‘next generation’," added Mr Baldwin. "Working with our partners who are at the cutting edge of the world’s broadband technology, we hope to deliver unrivalled support for homes and businesses across Strathspey.

"The first step is to assess the demand - hence the registration stage.”

Homes and businesses can register their interest on the portal created exclusively for the purpose - https://www.strathspeynow.blog/register. The site will be live for three months, giving everyone the chance to engage.

The hub of the project will be centred on Grantown. It will embrace towns and villages along the Spey – from Aviemore in the west to Aberlour in the east.

Depending on the numbers who register their interest, the technology being planned for deployment will ensure rural areas across and off the valley of the Spey can also be reached – including Advie, Boat of Garten, Carrbridge, Cromdale, Dava, Glenlivet, Nethy Bridge and Tomintoul.

Mr Watson added: “The reason so many homes and businesses have such poor connectivity is because they’ve fallen through the cracks of various programmes. It has not been economically viable to connect them - until now.

"We have the technology that makes it possible, not only ensuring they have the industry standard, but also exploring how we can offer significantly faster speeds of connectivity for both download and upload.”

Most services have focused on download speeds, he pointed out: “That is only one side of the coin. At one time, it was all about what you can download.

"Today, we are all spending more time online - whether for work, for studying or for leisure. All of these require us to upload content. That’s been a very slow process for too many. Our service changes that by making download and upload speeds equivalent.”

The three-month registration process will be followed by an evaluation early in the New Year. Destination Digital will act for and on behalf of those who have registered to ensure available funding can be accessed to optimise delivery.

He concluded: “Many addresses are eligible for funding support. For an individual home or business owner, pursuing this can be a very drawn out and time-consuming process – and all are acting independently or, at best, as small clusters of properties.

"By registering with us, we can act for and on behalf of all across the area to access and aggregate the funding. If the demand is there, we will then create an unrivalled broadband network that will best support the whole community.”

Communication with all those registering will be ongoing to ascertain demand and to ensure as many homes and businesses as possible benefit.

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