The Scottish Government launched Community Broadband Scotland (CBS) in August 2012 to assist rural communities, particularly those will not have next generation broadband delivered by its Step Change digital programme, and help them to achieve a significant uplift in broadband service. CBS will allow communities to take greater ownership and play a central role in securing the broadband services they need, and will deliver significant benefits to local and rural economies.
The Aviemore Seminar was the first occasion that all six Community Broadband Scotland (CBS) Pioneer Projects had gathered since they were first announced in November 2012. It was also the first time that the near-full complement of CBS Development Advisers – who have local knowledge and networks are now operating throughout Scotland – were all together under the same roof. Valuable contributions were also made over the course of the two-day seminar by established and emerging community broadband projects, the Plunkett Foundation, Aberdeen University, as well as the wider CBS team and CBS partners.
The main focus of the seminar was on the Pioneer projects – Applecross, Colonsay, Ewes Valley, Elvanfoot, Tomintoul and Glenlivet and Corgarff and Glenbuchat – which are already receiving targeted support from CBS. The informal and interactive nature of the event enabled these and community broadband projects to learn from each other’s experiences. It was also an excellent opportunity for communities to get to know the CBS team even better. This was invaluable in that CBS will be working intensively over the coming months and years with pioneering and emerging communities to assist them in developing viable and sustainable projects, and in trialling innovative technology and business models.
For me the most striking aspect of the CBS Aviemore seminar was the overwhelming enthusiasm and commitment of the participants, who kindly gave up their own time, and took time out of their day jobs to put so much into this event. Upon reflection, I should have expected nothing less, as these are the same community members that have already spent so much time, energy and commitment to help get better broadband to their communities. This serves to underline the very nature of CBS – the development of projects conceived, owned and operated by communities and for communities.
Video footage of all the speakers from the first day of the seminar will be available on the Scottish Government’s Digital Dialogue webpage. This includes: overviews of the Scottish Government’s Digital Strategy and of the CBS initiative; presentations by each of the six CBS Pioneer Projects; as well as more specialised sessions on broadband and community resilience, and fibre solutions.
The CBS Start-Up Fund is now open to both expressions of interest and applications, and subject to availability of funds, will remain open till 30 November 2014. Applications for funding support can be made at any time so that communities can come forward when they are ready to take their outline plans forward. For more information, please see the CBS website.