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Mast do better plan for improved Angus rural schools broadband

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Council chiefs have signalled their intention to bring rural Angus communities in from the darkness of a broadband black hole.

Under a new project, the authority has struck a deal with Strathmore Estates to rent land on a prominent local hill to site a relay mast for bouncing broadband toward schools and businesses whose remote location has been a barrier to getting a clear signal.

Some schools in the Angus glens have been described as having to put up with second-class connectivity due to the topographical barriers standing in the way of high-speed internet access.

Policy and resources committee councillors have now signed-off a deal to pay £4,500-a-year for the rent of a 14 square metre mast site on Craigowl Hill, just north of Dundee, and a further £2,600 per annum for access over roads owned by two neighbouring landowners.

A council spokesperson said the rural schools’ plan was part of a programme which will also lead to a boost for business parks in the county.

“We have been exploring the possibility of installing radio broadband across the county to provide radio broadband to rural schools, as the existing wired broadband is inadequate and this will improve children’s access to digital learning,” said the spokesperson.

“In addition our economic development team propose to utilise the connection for business parks and tourism hotspots, and it will also be used as part of the council’s core ICT network.

“To help us make this happen, a relay system is proposed across the county and a mast situated on Craigowl Hill.

“The land is owned by Strathmore (Holding) Ltd and access is required over two additional land owners’ land to reach the site.”

The spokesperson added: “We’ve also appointed contractors to put in place the hardware work at Kirkton and Orchardbank business parks to expand the connections for the companies located within these parks.

“Further to the approval at committee, we will progress with the mast erection project and develop plans for rural roll-out across the county.”

The Angus Council move follows a Scottish government announcement last week of progress on the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband project, which saw stronger than expected take up figures and and will lead to an additional £15.6 million being reinvested back into the programme.

The additional funding will have a particular focus on maximising the numbers of premises that have access to speeds of greater than 24Mbps with funding targeted on areas with the lowest speed coverage including Angus and Aberdeenshire.

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