Published: 26th Mar 2015
Locals and tourists are being driving away from Loch Ness due to the poor broadband service that is available in the area.
Andy Holt, who runs his company from his home in Inverfarigaig, told Cable.co.uk that the top speed most people around the loch can access is about 0.5 Mbps. He said: "It’s diabolical. For the last year or two we’ve had frequent questions about broadband in the towns and villages, but it’s slow or non-existent. Sometimes there is no broadband at all.”
The businessman said he knows of people that have moved out of the area because of the abysmal broadband, including a man who felt his children were falling behind classmates because they struggled to get online.
It's not just residents that are being impacted by the community's snail-paced broadband, as tourists are getting fed up as well, leading to fewer visitors coming to Loch Ness.
Mr Holt, who also runs a holiday apartment at St Augustus on the southern end of the loch, added: "We’ve had some really vile feedback. They need it and people assume they’ll get it. Tourists used to ask but now they just assume and then are disappointed when there is no broadband. And they don’t come back."
Plans have been put into place for a community broadband project, which has proved to be successful elsewhere in Scotland, but residents have struggled to find funding for it. The scheme would boost speeds to 20 Mbps and there is a wireless systems company in Inverness happy to provide the service.
The project - with a price tag of £120,000 - would cover a large area and there are no obstructions across the loch, meaning it would be cost effective. However, the plan has not come to fruition, something Mr Holt believes is down to the area being overlooked by the council.
Loch Ness residents have spoken to the Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), the organisation providing super-fast broadband to some of Scotland's most remote areas, and have discussed the issue with MP Danny Alexander.
Mr Holt claims his community wants a relatively small amount of funding to pay for the broadband upgrade, as this would keep residents happy and help to bolster the Loch Ness tourism industry.
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