Frequently Asked Questions

Am I a business?
We define you as a business if you can answer Yes to the following statements:
1. You pay business rates
2. You are a limited company

Why Highland Community Broadband?
Credit where credit's due; Duncan came up with the name. "Ullapool Broadband" left out Little Lochbroom and Coigach, "Lochbrooms Broadband" left out Coigach, "Wester Ross Broadband" implied we would ignore Elphin so "Highland Community Broadband" it is; thank you Duncan.

How does it work?
We run a wireless network which broadcasts from a number of small masts located across the area to individual receivers on each building. We use equipment from Ubiquiti https://www.ubnt.com/ which has become the de facto standard for Wireless Community Broadband networks in Scotland and is tried and tested.

Who else has installed Community Broadband?
Other communities who are up and running include:
http://www.skyenet.co.uk/ in Sleat, Southern Skye
http://www.tegola.org.uk/ including Loch Hourn
http://www.tegola.org.uk/hebnet/ in Knoydart and the Small Isles
http://www.applecrosscommunitycompany.org/ Applenet in Applecross
http://newlandscentre.org.uk/ Stobonet in Peeblesshire
http://badenochbroadband.com/ in Laggan
http://www.gigaplusargyll.co.uk/ in Argyll
http://www.b4rn.org.uk/ in Lancashire
http://www.locheilnet.co.uk/ around Loch Eil
What are the transmitters like?
They are less than 2m high and, where possible, below the skyline. Below is a picture of one of our transmitters.

Transmitter Station

Do I need a phone line?
No. If you wish to keep your phone number in the same way you can move your mobile phone between providers you can keep and port your phone number to a company like Vonage (from £11pm) and do away with BT. The only downside is that your phone won't work during a power cut (unless you have a generator!).

Can I get involved?
Yes, the more the merrier. Just let us know when you register how you would like to help (installation, administration, community representative etc.) and we will deputise you as soon as we can!

Why are you a Community Interest Company (CIC) and not a Community Benefit Society (CBS)?
We wanted to be a CBS rather than CIC, the main difference being that a CBS must distribute excess income whereas a CIC can make a profit but is not allowed to distribute the profits to shareholders only community organisations, but the cost of setting up a CBS was £1000 whereas as CIC is £35. We thought that was a better use of scarce money. We hope to convert to a CBS when finances allow.

Can I invest in HCB?
We always believed that HCB is a true community project with funding only coming from within the community it serves. Your subscription means that not only you but all your neighbours (should they wish) will be able to receive wireless broadband. The idea was never to provide a method for people to invest and receive anything more than a broadband service of, by and for us. However should an area want to raise the money to sponsor a transmission station we would give that area priority.

How many subscribers do you need?
We needed 190 residential subscribers to cover our core costs, 300 residential subscribers to cover our operating costs and 500 to fund network investment and further expansion if adjoining communities express an interest. We currently have almost 400 installations with over 50 on the waiting list.

How or when do I become a shareholder?
You automatically become a shareholder when we activate your service. Each subscriber has one share. These are not transferrable or sellable and are relinquished when you give up your service. There is an AGM which will allow shareholders to attend and speak.

Will the price go up?
There has been one price increase on the standard tariff since the network has been operational. Our standard tariff is generally less than equivalent wireless networks. There are no immediate plans to increase the price however future inflation and technological upgrades may necessitate increases in future tariffs.

What technical support will you provide?
When we do install your service we will spend time with you (if you wish) making sure that all your equipment is now connected and working properly. If there's a problem at a later date we would ask you to follow the resetting instructions in your Welcome Pack. If that does not work you can ring our office where we will be able to see if the fault is with our network which we can see as far as your router. If we still can't help we will either have one of our volunteers pop round to see you, or if it's more serious, one of our contractors to replace the (consumer premises equipment) CPE.

My house has been struck by lightning (again)!
As our equipment is not using miles of copper wire it is much less likely to get hit by lightning in the first place. In the unlikely event your CPE is damaged by a lighting strike please let us know as soon as possible and we will come and replace it free of charge.

What will happen to my email address if I subscribe to you?
If it's a free email address you received when you signed up with a Broadband Provider please visit this link which should explain everything. If it's a free service (e.g. @gmail, @hotmail, @outlook etc.) or a specific address that you bought (e.g. @yourname.com) you should experience no change but we will check this when we install your service.

I work from home, what tariff should I choose?
We would consider you a standard residential user which also covers home business. It's only if you are a large commercial organisation with high data demand that we would classify you as a business.

Will I experience buffering / loading issues while watching TV online?
There should be no buffering while watching TV. In fact you should be able to run more than one stream at a time easily.

I am tied into a current Telephone or Broadband contract
That's no problem. You can still become a Subscriber and we will delay your activation date until you are ready.

I have another question?
Try as we might we can't anticipate all the questions so if you have one, drop a line to info@hcbroadband.co.uk and we will reply and add it to the FAQ list.