Last week Calum Kerr, the MP for Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk, hosted the second meeting of the Borders Digital Forum in Newtown St Boswells.
The meeting brought together stakeholders and community council representatives from the region to hear from Lancashire based Broadband for Rural North (B4RN) and Heriot Community Broadband.
Commenting on the meeting Mr Kerr said:
“This was a great opportunity to give representatives from communities from across our region the option to engage with two inspiring and innovative projects that are already delivering on the ground."
“As I’ve said before, there’s no one-size-fits all solution to rural connectivity. For some, a lower cost wireless solution offered by Heriot Community Broadband is the answer. For others, the fixed connection offered by B4RN is more appropriate.”
“I was very impressed by the level of enthusiasm on show amongst those who attended. So many of our communities have had enough of poor connections, that I think there is definitely the will and energy out there to get first class connections for our communities.”
B4RN, a not for profit that delivers “the world’s fastest rural broadband”, offers a hyperfast gigabit service as standard to customers that sign up to its community-led model. This exceeds superfast speeds offered by most commercial providers.
B4RN’s chief executive, Barry Forde, hailed the meeting as a success and explained how his project works.
“It seemed to me that those attending the meeting were very keen to do something about their bad rural broadband.”
“The B4RN model, where each community takes responsibility for its own patch, works with farmers and the community to raise the capital and manage the build. This approach has been proven to work elsewhere and was enthusiastically discussed.”
“There is also a clear understanding that not all problems can be solved by central government, sometimes local groups can make things happen affordably in a way that central schemes struggle to match, but they do need to be supported. I’m hopeful that the enthusiasm of the meeting will lead to some first class projects locally.”
Rhonda Hill, a community councillor from Oxnam, said of the meeting:
“The meeting was excellent. It was very forward thinking and actually quite exciting.”
“We were presented with lots of options which makes me feel less 'cut off' from the outside world. I was particularly keen on the B4RN possibilities. I can't wait to spread the positive news for a change!”