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SBVS on the road in North-West Scotland: part 1

Tuesday, 27 June 2023

Rodger Motherwell is the R100 Scottish Broadband Voucher Scheme (SBVS) deployment manager for the North of Scotland. He previously wrote about his adventures throughout the North-East of Scotland in his guest blog. This time he is out and about in the North-West.

UltraNetworks – Memsie

My role as deployment manager is to manage SBVS supplier relationships in the North of Scotland. My typical day involves working with my suppliers around draft project submissions in addition to the operational tasks associated with the voucher scheme. It was good to get back out on the road again and meet some of the suppliers in person.

My first stop was Memsie, a little rural village a few miles outside of Fraserburgh. I visited UltraNetworks, an Alternative (AltNet) provider installing Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) and in recent times Fibre To The Premises (FTTP).

As with a number of suppliers I’ve visited, Jerry Briant of UltraNetworks' sees FTTP as the future, but maintains that FWA will continue to play a major part in supplying superfast broadband in hard to reach properties in rural Scotland.

The project in Memsie has ten beneficiaries, some of which were the original FWA customers of UltraNetworks. Their FWA reach is substantial having a 360 degree line of sight from their transmitter at Mormond Hill.

Monsternet – Fergus

Monsternet have been around for many years. Initially started by its founder Fergus Weir to supply FWA to himself, neighbours and local friends, their main transmitter at Torclunes now serves over 250 customers.

I met with Gareth Hall of Monsternet . As Gareth’s looking to expand and introduce more Monsternet projects we looked at a couple of locations he has in mind and talked through the process of producing the necessary paperwork which he’ll draft in the coming weeks.

Myself & Gareth at the entrance to Castle Stuart Golf Links Myself & Gareth at the entrance to Castle Stuart Golf Links

Highland Community Broadband

A recurring theme across both of my recent outings to visit suppliers has been the warm welcome and the appreciation for seeing someone from the R100 programme in the flesh. Personally, I feel as though I’ve been able to get much more from meeting in person than I ever can with MS Teams or emails.

Flora welcomed me at Highland Community Broadband (HCB) – she’s the one chilling on the sofa above – along with Nick, Angie, Kim and Catherine. HCB was started by a small group in the community simply seeking better access to the internet. From conception they’ve grown to a customer base of around 500, whom are all managed from the site of a former radio station. 

the team

Visiting my suppliers in the North-West has been great. They’ve all been welcoming and said how good it is to have the opportunity to talk face-to-face. In the main the conversations have been really positive and I look forward to more visits.

Speaking of more visits, look out for part two of this blog, which covers the rest of my journey where I met Cromarty Firth Wireless Networks, North Sat and Comms West.

The R100 Scottish Broadband Voucher Scheme

The R100 SBVS offers a voucher up to £5,000 to all eligible homes and businesses that are unable to access download speeds of at least 30Mbps and is not in a plan to receive a superfast connection. The voucher acts as a subsidy to help cover direct installation costs. It’s also designed to allow vouchers for a single property or to be combined in a community project.

Visit our new Vouchers section on this website to find out more about the process of engaging a supplier to apply to the scheme and some of the technologies that may be available to you.

Find out if you’re eligible for the R100 SBVS by entering your postcode into our online address checker.