Businesses can't move to Highland community 'due to broadband issues' header image

Poor broadband connections are making it impossible for businesses to move to a remote community in the west Highlands, according to the rural area's residents.

In addition, the Press and Journal reports that people living in the Ardnamurchan area of Lochaber feel that the issue of substandard connectivity is making it hard for them to sell their homes and is causing potential visitors to cancel their holiday lets.

Residents have been told that super-fast broadband will be available in their area from 2016 onwards, but these proposals are not concerned with improving the service that rural communities in Ardnamurchan have access to.

To tackle this, locals are gathering evidence to launch a campaign aimed at getting the government and BT to include more sparsely populated areas in the rollout.

Dave Kime, of Glenborrodale, told the Press and Journal that there is an enormous difference in the download speeds between homes located near the Kilchoan exchange and places such as Achosnich and his own area.

He added that there is currently no broadband available at all on the north coast of the peninsula and these places would not benefit from the upgrades coming in 2016. Instead, these residents are using satellite broadband, which is a viable alternative.

"We are aware of six small businesses that want to come here but cannot due to the broadband situation. There is also evidence of house sales falling through and visitors are cancelling holiday cottage lets," Mr Kime continued.

"Web speeds are too slow for streaming videos, watching YouTube and using Skype to keep in contact with family. They are also far too slow to allow business use."

Stuart Robertson, digital director of the Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), said that the £146 million investment in fibre-optic broadband for the area has been designed to cover as many homes and businesses as possible within the scope of the budget.

He claims the scheme will take coverage from the current 21 per cent to 84 per cent of properties across the region, however he did acknowledge that some areas will not be covered.

"This does not mean they are forgotten," he insisted.

Mr Robertson said the HIE will continue to work with the Digital Scotland partnership to investigate how coverage can be extended, looking at new technology and new funds that may become available.