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Drone used to connect remote property with broadband 

Openreach staff used the drone to fly a cable across a river to reach a Highland home.

Engineers have used a drone to fly broadband cable across a river for the first time to reach a remote property in a Highland glen.

A team from Openreach used the innovative method to reach a home on the other side of a 50-metre wide stretch of river in Glenmazeran.

Most of the nearby homes were connected by the installation of an armoured cable through a glen next to the River Findhorn, but a different approach was needed for the property across the water.

Engineers completed a week's training to become certified by the Civil Aviation Authority to fly the drone for commercial purposes, and then used it to fly the cable across the river, where it was connected to a telegraph pole.

Openreach plans to use drones as part of its "toolkit" to reach places in difficult terrain as the gadgets are more reliable than previous methods which have included attaching cables to golf balls and hitting them over, or throwing them attached to a hammer.

Kevin Drain, Openreach's chief engineer,  said: "Although Glenmazeran is only 20 miles from Inverness, the properties are very remote and scattered.

"We've had to contend with steep drops and bankings as we buried cable along the single-track road."

'In the past we've tried all sorts of ways to do this - like attaching cables to fishing lines, golf balls and even hammers, which frankly proved hit and miss.'
Kevin Drain, Openreach

He continued: "But the biggest challenge was reaching one remote home, 400 metres away from the main route, where the fibre cable needed to span a 50 metre wide stretch of river.

"In the past we've tried all sorts of ways to do this - like attaching cables to fishing lines, golf balls and even hammers, which frankly proved hit and miss.

"This is the first time we've used a drone to drop fibre into place here in Scotland and as a delivery method it's unbeatable. "

Robert Thorburn, partnership director for Openreach in Scotland, confirmed that the use of drones will become a key technology used in future installation programmes across the country.

He said: "This may be one of the quirkier uses for a drone, but innovations like this means we can now deliver high-speed broadband in situations where traditionally it's been impossible for any business or partnership to justify the work."

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