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SBVS on the road in North-West Scotland: part 2

Thursday, 13 July 2023

Rodger Motherwell is the R100 Scottish Broadband Voucher Scheme (SBVS) deployment manager for the North of Scotland. This is part two of Rodger’s adventures throughout the North-West of Scotland. Make sure to read part one here.

Cromarty Firth Wireless Networks (CFWN)

Mike and Jenny along with their team gave me a warm welcome upon my arrival at CFWN. Sitting in their operations hub was a real experience! In 2006, Mike started the business through personal need and after drumming up support from neighbours he started to build their Fixed Wireless Access network (FWA).

The area they operate in and the local geography play a key role in determining that FWA should be the main technology on offer. Hosted on the side of this farm building, the large antenna alone can service over 500 connections.

Due to the nature of the terrain all manner of solutions are considered in order to provide a broadband service. Mike showed me some great examples of where they’ve used existing features to install antennas – like on the farm building and to this gate post which has line of sight to the farm. Sometimes new poles are also required; the one shown will soon help connect two hard to reach properties for the first time.

North Sat

Erik set-up North Sat and started installing satellite broadband to residential and commercial properties in Inverness and the surrounding area. 17 years later North Sat has many satellite customers and many more using 4G, 5G and FWA connections.

During my visit Erik and I had a really good chat about his plans to drive forward projects and expand their reach. As I’ve said in previous blogs, having this type of conversation in person makes a big difference and being able to get the maps out is always a big plus.

Comms West formally known as Locheilnet

Ali and Jackie welcomed me with a lovely coffee at HQ. They’re a community-based operation who have been supplying broadband to hard to reach rural properties for over 10 years.

Being community based they can only expand with the income they receive. With the R100 SBVS covering direct installation costs of eligible build, it’s allowed them to grow their network. With a couple of projects on the horizon they’re keen to use the voucher scheme to help grow the business, which is great to hear.

Again, by being out on the road and meeting suppliers I get to see the efforts they go to reach new customers, including the flyer Jackie handed me as I left for home. For me it encompasses what rural suppliers are all about, meeting challenges head on and connecting people in the hardest to reach places.

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 are 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.