HEBRIDES.NET - The Background of the Project

Since 1994 the Western Isles have been at the forefront of creating and enabling knowledge economy jobs for tele-workers, office based workers and indeed any job which can be undertaken over an internet connection.

From 1995 to 2001 the Western Isles ICT Advisory Service was funded in two phases through ERDF with additional funding from HIE Innse Gall and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar. Over that time great progress was made in attracting inward investment companies and in the growth of local ICT companies. Tele-working also helped create a number of home based work opportunities especially in areas were no options for office based jobs existed.

Hebrides Broadband Project Overview

The Western Isles 'Connected Communities' project is delivering an innovative high performance broadband wireless network across the six main populated islands of Lewis, Harris, North Uist, Benbecula, South Uist and Barra. The network has connected a diverse range of organisations and individuals placing the Western Isles at the forefront of broadband developments in rural areas.

Connected Communities is also piloting a number of technologies which will be a model for other rural and island areas to replicate. The 'Connected Communities' island network utilises a combination of fibre and leading edge Wireless Broadband Base stations and multipoint in-community links.

From Jan 2002 to Dec 2004 the Work Global ICT Business Development Program continued the development work except for e-business which now has a separate development initiative through Highlands & Islands Enterprise and locally through HIE Innse Gall (Western Isles Enterprise). For more information on these development programs see

As the sector has developed lack of broadband had become the single biggest challenge in the Western Isles and Connected Communities has now delivered an exemplar network.

This will allow new networks to be demonstrated in community locations and provide tele-workers and local companies high speed connections through wireless antennas. Schools, health centres and Council offices already receive a high speed connection and through this same infrastructure the rest of the community is gaining access as the network develops.

The network pilot is funded by the DTI UKOnline, Scottish Executive, Western Isles Enterprise and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar. The website is the portal for access to the Connected Communities for private sector business and residential customers.

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