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Case Studies > Heriot Community Broadband and StoboNet

South East Scotland


Case Study Heriot Community Broadband and StoboNet South East Scotland www.helpingithappen.co.uk
Case Study Heriot Community Broadband and StoboNet Despite their proximity to Edinburgh, some sparsely populated areas of the Scottish Borders have for years suffered the economic and social disadvantages associated with the lack of viable high-speed broadband.

With no commercial solution on the horizon, this frustration led to collaboration between academics and local residents, and the creation of an innovative wireless network that is now bringing fast, affordable connectivity to homes and businesses across nearly 1,000 square miles.

Heriot Community Broadband and StoboNet were established at roughly the same time in 2013, on the back of growing disillusionment with BT’s promise to roll out high-speed fibre broadband. Professor Gordon Hughes (StoboNet Chairman) and John Williams (Heriot Community Broadband Chairman), reached out to the High Speed Universal Broadband for Scotland (HUBS) team at University of Edinburgh, and together devised an innovative alternative means of connecting their communities to the UK internet backbone.

Instead of fibre and ageing copper telephone lines, a network of around 45 microwave-linked relay masts provides an increasingly comprehensive wireless network, which is linked in Edinburgh by fibre optic cable to the main Edinburgh internet hub at the Gyle.

For £25 per month for a normal household account, the companies’ 200 customers enjoy speeds of around 20mbps and a monthly download limit of 150GB. While the founders believe Heriot Community Broadband and StoboNet offer a more commercially sustainable model than BT, the capital cost of the infrastructure has been heavily subsidised by wind farm community benefit funds, the Scottish Government and local estates.

Both chairmen feel strongly that local estates in south east Scotland have a key role to play in facilitating such community schemes, and speak enthusiastically about the support they have received.

John said: “These large estates are terribly important to the rural fabric of Scotland, and I think they often get a rough ride. The support we’ve had behind the scenes from one or two of the estates has been absolutely vital.”

Gordon added: “In total, about eight large estates are customers and the arrangement we usually make is that we can place a relay on their land, which we can also use to serve the surrounding communities. There’s a lot of mutual benefit from collaboration of that kind.”

Jonathan Burrow, factor at Rosebery Estates, commented: “They put up two masts at our Lethenwater Estate in August 2016 and the process was carried out quickly and efficiently. We now get faster speeds at the much more remote Lethenwater than we do at Dalmeny.”
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