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Scottish Borders rural broadband project seeks partners

A rural broadband project in the Scottish Borders is seeking partners to help bring residents out of the superslow dark ages. 

The Ettrick and Yarrow Community Development Company has invited industry comment and advice on how to best improve the digital lives of residents who can currently only get 512kbps speeds from the local BT exchange at Cappercleuch. 

The communities aren’t going to benefit from from BDUK (Broadband Delivery for the UK) and BT hasn’t announced plans to upgrade the exchange under its own £2.5 billion commercial rollout

Read Recombu Digital’s guide to Rural BroadbandThe Community Development Company wants to set up a network capable of supporting next generation broadband speeds. 

Despite the Valleys being popular destinations for tourists and campers, communities are suffering as they’re unable to enjoy the benefits of online services. Mobile coverage is so bad that you can’t even send a text from the Ettrick Valley. 

Julie Nock, project officer for revitalising the Ettrick and Yarrow Valleys says: “Like much of rural Scotland, the valleys face outward migration of young people, declining facilities, we have no shops, health care facilities and one of the primary schools has had to close as there are no children left, high house prices and very little social housing. 

“On the upside, the area is stunning beautiful and we have plenty of accommodation, 680 spaces – camping, caravaning, B&B, hotels and cottages, so tourism can really take off here and that would really help the local economy.” 

While the Mobile Infrastructure Plan should improve the mobile reception problem, there’s no indication that the Valleys will get any next generation broadband anytime soon. In a community development plan posted last July the possibility of setting up wireless broadband base stations in nearby Selkirk and Moffat was mooted. Wireless could be a good solution for the Valleys, but if any takers out there think they can bring 1Gbps fibre to the area then they should get in touch. 

Interested parties who want to help out the Ettrick and Yarrow Community Development Company have until August 30 to respond. 

Image: summonedbyfells/Flickr

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