Heriot Community Broadband CIC

The website for the Heriot Community Broadband is at http://www.heriotbroadband.co.uk/.

Factsheet for Heriot Community Broadband CIC (HCB), November 2017

Current in 2017

  • Heriot is 16 miles south of Edinburgh on either side of the Gala Water valley, with the A7 running along it, together with the newly reopened Borders Railway.
  • The community extends about 10km east to west, and 5km north to south. It consists of three main groups of houses and many other small groups and farms along valleys, with very extensive and sparsely populated areas of hill in between.
  • Approximately 180 dwellings and about 350 registered voters.
  • HCB CIC was formed in 2013. There are 5 directors, all local volunteers, and an administrator. Local contractors provide technical support, system administration and electrical work.
  • Currently HCB has about 80 residential connections and 40 commercial connections (many outside Heriot), with a waiting list of about 25 further residential connections.
  • The service is asymmetric with minimum 25MB download/ upload speeds – but speeds are usually around 40MB or higher. Upstream ISP is HUBS, separate briefing provided.
  • The HCB Service is supplied by microwave links from simple “masts” on various hills.
  • Heriot itself has 8 main masts, with many subsidiary masts or antennas providing residential links.
  • 3 main masts linked to transmitting masts in Edinburgh or Easter Bush, via equipment on Edinburgh University buildings. Access there to fibre links to main UK node at The Gyle, Edinburgh.

History

  • Heriot receives Community Benefits from three wind farms in its area. In 2011 Heriot Community Council carried out a survey of residents to ascertain what sort of projects they wished to see brought forward. Access to High Speed Broadband was by far the highest scoring.
  • 2013. Funding from wind farm secured for a pilot project. Simple link to Edinburgh University and about 6 houses connected.
  • 2013. First major funding round. HCB CIC set up. Roll out of construction of main masts started and gradual connection of residents thereafter.
  • 2015. Second funding round. Service continues expanding to cover a major part of Heriot. First commercial links outside Heriot established to serve local estates and Fallago Rig wind farm in the Lammermuirs. Residential connections are often not straightforward, requiring supplementary equipment to ensure line of sight coverage to masts.
  • 2015. Second funding round. Service continues expanding to cover a major part of Heriot. First commercial links outside Heriot established to serve local estates and Fallago Rig wind farm in the Lammermuirs. Residential connections are often not straightforward, requiring supplementary equipment to ensure line of sight coverage to masts.
  • Generous support from a large local estate funded two extra masts, to serve both the estate properties and other local residences. The local estate also agrees to fund the HCB administrator.
  • Network integrated with Stobo & Dawyck Community Network (SDCN) providing much greater resilience and economies of scale in support.
  • 2017. Third funding round. Most of Heriot is now covered by the HCB service, but some properties remain to be connected. Main backhaul links upgraded with increase in speeds and reliability.
  • Further construction of masts was undertaken and planned to serve areas outside Heriot Community.
  • The combined network with SDCN now has upward of 40 masts, and around 400 customers.

Costs

  • Major masts cost £6,000 - £10,000.
  • The variation in costs usually reflects the difficulty or distance involved of supplying power for the equipment, together with the number of large antenna required.
  • Minor masts and antenna cost up to £1,000
  • Residential connections start at £250 per house – but can often cost considerably more involving minor masts or antenna.
  • Professional contractors are employed for these tasks. Whilst volunteers can lend a hand, reliability and insurance requirements require this approach.