The subject of bringing superfast broadband to the UK’s remote areas has come to the fore recently. The government is talking about it and there are lots of articles in the papers and online. Ian was contacted this week by BBC Radio Scotland to take part in a talk on ‘Good Morning Scotland’ about the setup of Rum. It was only a brief chat, and since there is a lot of interest in how we’ve done it on Rum I thought I’d do a piece for the blog to tell a bit more…
Ian knew when we took on Tattie House that one of his main priorities would be to look into the possiblility of getting a fast broadband connection to Rum. We both thought we would need something faster and more reliable than the existing satellite connection in order to be able to run a business of any kind or possibly work remotely. Somewhere down the line, he was contacted by neighbouring islander Simon from Eigg who shared his vision of improving internet provision for the Small Isles and together they formed HebNet (www.hebnet.co.uk). HebNet is a community interest company formed for the community’s benefit, and appart from Ian on Rum is run by a small group of people based on Eigg. After the initial set up on Eigg having proved a big success, it was then trialled on Rum – and very successfully too thanks to a handful of people who were willing to trust what Ian was saying and give it a go. Tattie House has been host to the HebNet dish since (the reason we haven’t been able to take down the second out house!). Our neighbour Sean has been a big help to the whole thing by being caretaker of the HebNet kit over winter and keeping the local side of things ticking over nicely. When we came to live on Rum in the spring the intention was to get the dish moved onto the hill behind Tattie House so that a stronger main signal could be established, improving signals around the village and allowing neighbouring island Canna to benefit along with the other isles from the new fast broadband. It took a little longer than initially anticipated, however the go ahead was given and the kit was finally moved up the hill last weekend. HUGE self pats on the back to the handful of people who made a really big old effort to get up the hill with the kit on Saturday and Sunday, in turn helping to improve the broadband facilities for everyone. The tracked barrow made the carrying of heavy items less strenuous, but as you will see from the photos it took 3 strong men (!) to guide it up the hillside and over the good old Scottish ‘ankle breaking’ ground (as I like to call it). Now that the heavy kit is in place there’ll be a few little trips up the hill which I’ll be helping Ian with before it’s all wrapped up. (All photos (c) Sean Morris.)
This last picture saw the team give up on the barrow and carry the cabinet up the last stretch of hillside. Not easy!
Personally, I’m really quite proud of all the work and effort that Ian has put in to HebNet on a voluntary basis for the benefit of the community. I may be biased but I do think he truly is a wonder! It’s not only for us, but to improve life in general for residents of the Small Isles, open up all sorts of possibilities and opportunities to existing residents and maybe even help to attract new ones. We can download, internet shop, run businesses online, chat to our loved ones online, work remotely, offer tourists fast connection, and much more – all very comfortably. So well done to everyone involved for making it happen!!