Operating in Elgol, the Small Isles and Knoydart, HebNet reaches parts of the Highlands and Islands that the big providers don’t cover, helping to connect homes and businesses to the internet.
For fish farmers, the layout has been crucial, ensuring remote feeding and monitoring systems have a high-speed, high-capacity connection to their shore bases, while improving employee safety.
Local residents, meanwhile, were able to access popular streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon, as well as work from home, with fast broadband comparable to central Scotland.
To continue fiber optic upgrades, as well as maintain current connections, HebNet decided to invest in a boat in 2021, reducing travel times on the road and reducing reliance on public ferries.
The 5.5m RIB has proven to be a valuable asset but now needs repairs to maintain its reliability. HebNet has therefore asked salmon farmers Mowi and Scottish Sea Farms to help cover the costs.
“The areas we operate in are very challenging,” said HebNet director Ian Bolas, who is based in Rum in the Small Isles. “At the moment we are installing fiber in new places, including Elgol on Skye and Canna. But one of the biggest challenges we have had is getting to these places, often at short notice.
The RIB has already made a difference, Bolas said, but in order to ‘future-proof’ the vessel, HebNet received a total of £8,500 from Mowi and Scottish Sea Farms, helping to ensure the continued delivery of broadband delivery vital to distant lands. discarded pitches.
Stewart Tonks, ICT manager at Mowi Scotland, which has farms in the Small Isles and Skye, as well as along the west coast, said: “Having a secure broadband network in our workplace is important for the employee safety, allowing our farmers to properly care for their fish in remote feeding centers during inclement weather.
“The network is now also vital to other working families and businesses in the rural areas where we farm, so we are pleased to provide this additional support to HebNet to help ensure a reliable service is provided to all.”
Scottish Sea Farms, which previously worked with HebNet to bring super-fast broadband to Knoydart and Loch Nevis, would not be able to operate the high-tech equipment on its power barges without internet connectivity, said said Colin Kupris, IT Operations and Infrastructure Manager.
“Without HebNet we would be very hard pressed to provide connectivity to Loch Nevis farms as it is a very difficult area – 15-30 minutes journey by sea – with no other internet or mobile phone coverage.
“As well as facilitating daily data updates and generally staying in touch with the outside world, the service enables remote feeding and monitoring, ensuring fish are fed as needed. , whatever the weather conditions.
Designed to be affordable and fast enough for people to go about their daily lives, the HebNet service was initially set up to fill the gaps left by BT and other big providers, Bolas said.
“Today there is no digital divide between, say, a small house on Eigg and a townhouse in Glasgow – we all take internet service a bit for granted here.”