Some rural areas of the Highlands are to receive free high-speed broadband for a year from a mobile phone network.
Three said it is bringing almost four million megabytes of mobile broadband to people and businesses in the northern coastal areas of Melvich and Durness, as well as connecting the port in Invergordon.
The project will give away 20 devices to community hubs, families and local businesses, providing around three million webpages-worth of free access.
Three’s Rural Broadband Working Group is a UK-wide initiative which works with local politicians to identify areas in need of broadband. Once the communities are highlighted, local businesses and families are given free access to mobile broadband for a year using Three’s network.
The latest project is the first time the group has operated in Scotland and will see sites such as a community hall, a hotel and two cafes get connected.
Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “The numerous educational, economic and social benefits brought about by high-speed internet are often slower to come to rural areas such as the Highlands, so initiatives like this are crucial.
“This is all part of a longer-term commitment to ensuring Scotland enjoys a world-class digital infrastructure across the entire country by 2020.”
Dave Dyson, chief executive of Three, said: “With the Highlands having some of the most remote areas in Europe, these communities often don’t have access to the benefits of high-speed broadband.
“We have built a network specifically for the internet and are passionate about using this to connect people wherever they are, whether this is in the Highlands or towns and cities around the UK.”
The working group was launched in 2011 with the aim of educating politicians and communities on the benefits of mobile broadband.
Kevin Arrowsmith, of Durness Development Group, said: “Internet access is absolutely key to the economic and social well-being of Highland communities which are otherwise disadvantaged by their extremely remote location, so the more broadband we can get the better.”
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