North Skye Broadband (2015) Ltd. (NSB) is one of a number of community led, not for profit companies that have been established on the Isle of Skye. Our neighbouring projects cover Sleat and Heaste areas (Skyenet), the Strathaird peninsula, the Isle of Soay and possibly areas of Raasay. Together we will work to deliver superfast broadband networks in areas not expected to be covered by the Highland and Island Enterprise (HIE) Next Step 2015 Contract with BT to extend fibre coverage. North Skye Broadband was grown out of the steering group formed by The Glendale Trust to improve broadband for the communities in the very North of the island but during initial consultations, it was evident that there is significant interest within all of North Skye, so the target area quickly expanded to include anyone who expressed an interest.
NSB was then established as a continuation of the Glendale Trusts work to grow the target area. A new steering group was formed from representatives from the communities that have so far expressed an interest. As and when other communities express an interest in being involved we will look to add representation for them to the Steering Group. The Steering Group meets at least monthly (currently more frequently) and will provide regular short updates via our Facebook page, our website NorthSkyeBroadband.com and by email to people who have registered to be kept up to date.
We are in the process of arranging initial funding and then employing a Project Manager to help drive the project forward. The first task will be to work with the steering group, CBS and HIE to define the exact postcode areas that will not be covered by the BT rollout. This will demonstrate the vast areas of the island that will not benefit from superfast broadband via BT and these will become the initial focus for obtaining Government funding from Community Broadband Scotland (CBS). It is important to understand that this in no way excludes people in BT covered areas from expressing an interest or taking services from NSB, it is simply a matter of priority and timescale, so nobody is excluded! We are an inclusive community run operation for the benefit of all our communities.
Our second objective is to develop an invitation to tender document that will be used to solicit solutions for the provision of an affordable superfast broadband service. The service will be comparable with current provider’s offerings, and will be available to all areas on the Island not already covered by the BT rollout, or by any other Community Broadband schemes in the south of the Island.
Our current timeline is to have a preferred bidder in spring 2016 with the contract awarded in summer 2016. This will require us to have raised a minimum of 11% of the total contract value with the remaining 89% of the funding being made available by CBS to extend the Coverage of the HIE Next Step 2015 contract. To be able to obtain the funding from CBS we are required to prove demand for our service and develop a business plan demonstrating the sustainability of the operation for a minimum of 7 years, of course we plan to be around far longer than that.
We will continue to issue further briefing notes as and when we have meaningful progress to report, so watch this space, we will be back to you soon.