Engineers have drafted in a drone to fly a cable across a Highland river, as part of their efforts to build a full-fibre broadband network.

The remote location and challenging terrain of Glenmazeran has, in the past, prompted the team from Openreach to attach cables to “fishing lines, golf balls, and even hammers”.

And in a Scottish engineering first the team employed the use of a drone to reach one remote property on the other side of the River Findhorn.

Armoured cable has been buried along six miles of single-track road through the Glen near the river, where most of the 37 scattered homes included in the first phase of the project are located.

Chief Engineer of Openreach for the north of Scotland, Kevin Drain said, “Though Glenmazeran is only 20 miles from Inverness, the properties are very faraway and in random directions.

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“We have had to make do with steep drops and bankings as we buried the cable with the single-track road. Yet the toughest task was reaching one remote home, 400 meters away from the main route, where the fibre cable required to span a 50-metre wide stretch of river.

In the past we have tried all sorts of ways to do this such as attaching cables to fishing lines, golf balls, and even hammers, which frankly proved hit and miss.

This is the first time a drone was used to drop fibre into place here in Scotland. Drones will now become a part of our toolkit to determine the places where the terrain means traditional engineering is complex or impossible.”

Kevin mentioned, “We did need to exercise our technique.  It looks dissimilar from linking up a street in Inverness, that is for sure.”

Engineers finished a week’s training to get verified by the Civil Aviation Authority in order to fly the drone for commercial needs.

The Scottish Openreach team is said to be one of the five in the UK now certified to fly drones.

Glenmazeran residents are also supporting to dig in the final lengths of cable which travel from the new fibre spine to their properties.

Robert Thorburn stated that “Our engineers love to face challenge and Glenmazeran has given us with a big chance to test our skills.

We are continuously working on new techniques and technologies to help us take fibre broadband additionally and quicker, and significantly to drive down delivery costs.

This may be one of the peculiar uses for a drone, but innovations like this means we can now provide fast-moving broadband where traditionally it is not able to occur for any business or partnership to prove the work.”