HCB was formed as a Community Interest Company (CIC) by three like-minded individuals who care passionately about this community and wanted to show that they could provide Wireless Broadband which would help this part of the northwest highlands to thrive and succeed.
The goal was to bring quality high speed internet to EVERYONE in the area, not just Ullapool. Many outlying areas had been told that they would never receive decent broadband, or at best it would be many years away, which was not good enough.
Through the hard work and dedication of the founder directors, subsequent board members, volunteers and partners we now have an operational network.
We now have around 350 subscribers with over 50 on the waiting list, spread over 400 square miles of rugged hills and jagged coastline. Building a network on rocks, hills, bogs and over open water in our variable climate has been a challenge. The first subscribers were connected in 2017 and with the completion of Elphin in 2019 the original planned planned network was effectively completed.
We will continue to stabilise and improve the network through an ongoing rollout of technical upgrades which will aim to provide a reliable service that responds to the ever increasing demand for hi speed data transfer across the airwaves. We will also continue to investigate potential partners and alternative funding streams and actively engage with the wider wireless broadband community through UKWISPA and direct contacts.
Aside from the topographical and technical challenges we face it is important that the company is managed on a sound financial basis. Improvements will always be delivered within the current financial restraints and robust control systems are in place to monitor and plan current and future spending.
Finally, as a CIC, we are owned by our subscribers.
In addition to improved digital connectivity in remote and rural communities, we envisage the following outcomes:
1. The relocation and retention of families to the area to ensure the continuing operation of the local primary schools as improved Broadband allows greater employment opportunities in remote areas.
2. Improved access to educational opportunities e.g. research for school & college assignments, as well as distance learning opportunities.
3. The restoration of disused crofts and abandoned buildings to re-create a vibrant and thriving viable community around the area as Broadband access is now considered the fourth utility.
4. The ability of Crofters to download and submit documents to the Crofting Commission and improve their incomes via home based small business.
5. On the job training on network design and construction for community members during the planning, building and operation phases of the network.
6. Greater equality for the rural population as the movement of essential services online e.g. Government, Banking and Utilities increase with cost penalties for those unable to access.