Finlay Mackenzie

Finlay MacKenzie reads his first e-mail

The Tegola Project - Wireless in Rural Areas

Tegola is a project sponsored by the Edinburgh University and UHI Millenium Institute to develop new technologies to bring high-speed, affordable broadband to rural areas.

There are many communities in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland that are desperate for Internet access. This is particularly important for local business opportunities and children’s access to educational resources, where the nearest shop or school may be several miles away. These communities are also dependent on mail-order for delivery of goods and services, but many companies are charging a premium for telephone orders and some are only taking orders placed on the internet.

If there is one thing that will revitalise such communities, it is the availability of broadband. The villages of Arnisdale and Corran, along with the scattered inhabitants of the North-West shores of Knoydart are an example. In the past few years, these communities gave gone through something of a rebirth. There are now several children of school age, and a number of small industries: fish-farming, tourism, prawn fishing, graphic design, consulting and telecommuting, etc. The lack of a decent internet was a real problem. Some people were even driving nine miles to pick up their e-mail!

The UK lags behind other countries in the delivery of high-speed broadband according to the BBC and the UKgovernment. The remote communities of the Scottish Highlands and Islands are locked into a technology that, in turn, puts them behind the rest of the UK, see our Technology Brief for more information. Telephone cable based technologies are useless for places like Arnisdale and Corran, which until recently had little hope of getting broadband.

The Tegola project is aimed at bypassing much of the existing wired access technology and providing remote communities with cheap and high-speed broadband wireless access. We want to bring rural Scotland into a leading position. The main problem here is making the system cheap enough. At the same time we want to make it fast and reliable; and this is particularly difficult in hilly terrain and hostile weather conditions.

Mast Example

The following sections describe a bit more about the project