Broadband

Community Broadband Project

Edderton’s Community Broadband Project – An Update

Despite the recent survey that showed that 85% of all who responded were in favour of the project proposed by Highland Wireless & IT Solutions Ltd (HWITS), it is disappointing that the Community Council has delayed making a decision to support the project, albeit for justifiable reasons.

The results of the survey clearly indicated that only those experiencing broadband problems actually completed and returned the survey that was included in the summer edition of the Community Newsletter. This is not so surprising when it is realised that many properties in the main village area do receive an adequate broadband service, now that BT has laid a fibre-optic cable to the telephone exchange. However, since the fibre-optic extension to Ardgay this improvement within the main village area has suffered to a noticeable degree.

Support from the Community Council is crucial; not only in expressing support for a beneficial community project, but also to give support to an application being made by HWITS to secure funding from the Beinn Tharsuinn Wind Farm Fund. When the Community Council voted in favour of a survey at its meeting in May, it was considered appropriate to hold a special Community Council meeting at the beginning of July to focus on the broadband proposal and make a decision on whether it should be supported. The reason for holding a special meeting within the traditional two-month annual break from meetings, was to await the result of the survey, which had been given a completion deadline of the end of June, as well as being unencumbered by other community matters. A meeting was arranged and held on Tuesday, July 11th, but unfortunately there were insufficient councillors present to make a quorum, and as a result decisions could not be made.

In view of the failure to make progress at the meeting on July 11th, it was suggested that another meeting of the Community Council should be arranged for the following week – July 18th. However, this proved impossible, and another date was suggested – July 25th. In the event it was decided not to go ahead with that meeting and wait until the next scheduled meeting of the Community Council, which will take place on Tuesday, September 5th. Hopefully, at that meeting the Community Council will finally decide whether the proposal offered by HWITS can be supported.

Despite the uncertainty of support from the Community Council, a leasing agreement has been reached between HWITS and Edderton Community Hall for transmitting equipment to be installed within the Hall.

Previous efforts to improve broadband to outlying areas of the village have been unsuccessful. At the beginning of this year BT admitted that despite the commitment to provide fast broadband to all areas of the UK by 2021 this would be impracticable in remote rural areas due to cost and technical problems, and BT suggested that other options should be explored by communities in remote rural areas, such as satellite broadband. During 2016 approaches were made to Highland and Islands Enterprise (HIE) and the Kyle of Sutherland Development Trust (KoSDT), as both organisations were attempting to support schemes for a better broadband service in the North of Scotland. Regrettably, funding was cut from both HIE and KoSDT, and these potential solutions fell by the wayside.

Even though it is taking time to reach a decision that would allow broadband issues around Edderton to be addressed, it is to be hoped that all will be in place by the beginning of September to allow HWITS to continue with its scheme to provide Edderton with a Community Broadband Network. With just over five weeks to go before the Community Council meets on September 5th, all interested parties are urged not to seek alternative solutions in the meantime.

Ted Venn – 26th July 2017

Results of the Broadband Survey

Total Interested 33
Total Not Interested 4
Unknown Interest 2
Total Respondents 39
Broadband Survey Pie Chart – 02 07 2017

There will be a special meeting of Edderton Community Council on Tuesday, July 11th in the Community Hall at 7.30pm to review the survey and decide on whether to support the provision of a Community Broadband Network for Edderton and the surrounding area.

Ted Venn – July 2nd, 2017


Broadband Survey

A survey is currently being carried out by Edderton Community Council and Highland Wireless & IT Solutions Ltd to gauge local interest in a project to provide a faster, better and more reliable broadband service for Edderton and the surrounding area.

The survey can be found in the latest edition of Edderton’s Community Newsletter – June 2017.  Please complete the tear-off slip and return to me using the contact details provided as soon as you can.

A coloured version of the newsletter can also be found on this website under Community Newsletter.

Ted Venn – 25th May 2017


This is just a quick email update regarding the Edderton Broadband Scheme. The community council are conducting a survey to gauge the interest of the scheme before they make their final decision on the funding. This survey was distributed in the latest copy of the Community Newsletter – if for any reason, you have not received a copy please let me know and I shall email you a copy. I would encourage as many people as possible to return the survey slip to the details on the Newsletter – this will allow for the Community Council to know accurately the number of people interested.

I can now confirm that my website and Facebook page is up and running for Highland Wireless & IT Solutions Ltd – please see below links:

Main website – www.highlandwireless.co.uk

Email updates – http://highlandwireless.co.uk/email-updates.html

Facebook Page – https://www.facebook.com/highlandwirelessltd/

I would encourage you to go to the ‘Email Updates’ link above and sign up to the mailing list – this will ensure that you are kept up to date with the latest news/updates/developments. The new website includes lots of information that you might find of use.

If you have questions or would like to discuss anything please feel free to contact me!

Cameron Warren

Highland Wireless & IT Solutions Ltd

m: 07805 311 468

e: cameron@highlandwireless.co.uk

w: www.highlandwireless.co.uk

24th May 2017


Good progress is being made for the broadband project that will cover the Edderton Area.  Scoping and pricing are in their final stages and a proposal document will be presented to the Community Council at the next meeting in May.  Once the Community Council has approved the proposal, public information will be finalised and a date will be decided for a public information evening.  This date will be circulated via leaflets to every house in the Edderton Coverage area.  The information evening will be held in Edderton’s Community Hall – during the meeting the following information will be supplied:

How the System Will Work

Network information

Installation and Monthly pricing

How to sign up

During the meeting it will be possible to ask questions, register your interest or sign up to a package.  In the meantime if you require further information or seek clarification then please contact Cameron Warren by e-mailing him at cameron@cpwit.co.uk.

Ted Venn – 19th April 2017


Following a meeting (on March 20th) where several members of the local community attended, Cameron Warren (of CPW IT) summarised the initial proposal that was given to the Community Council Meeting. The meeting then moved onto discussing the possible solution as first mentioned to the Community Council.  The different aspects of the system and how it would work were explained and also discussed.  Due to the proposal being in the early stages, only approximate costs were indicated and Cameron confirmed he would be carrying out a scoping exercise to gather full costs. Once these costs were gathered a proposal will be created and presented to the Community Council at a suitable meeting. Information will be made available to the Community Council and the public prior to that meeting. Everyone in the local community will be encouraged to attend the meeting to hear more definite facts about the proposal.  The Community Council will then make a decision taking into account other possible options.  More information will be provided as soon as it is available.  Cameron can be phoned on 01463 896 304 or e-mailed at cameron@cpwit.co.uk if there are any aspects of the proposal that require clarification.

Ted Venn – 22nd March 2017

The First Meeting of the Project Group will take place on Monday, March 20th in the Community Hall, starting at 7.30pm.

Ted Venn – 16th February 2017

Following the successful presentation of a Community Broadband proposal to the Community Council earlier this week, the next stage is to establish its viability.  This will require the formation of a small group of people that would undertake a number of tasks, such as: gauging the community interest; scoping out the project coverage area; deciding on operational factors of the project; and in the long term be trained in how to maintain the system.  The group would aim to meet every few months or as and when needed.  In order to maintain momentum and retain interest, it is hoped that the first meeting could take place before Easter.  The venue would be in the Community Hall.  If you would like to be part of the group please contact Cameron Warren at cameron@cpwit.co.uk or by phoning 01463 896 304.  If anyone has any questions about the project, then Cameron would be very pleased to hear from them.

Ted Venn – 10th February 2017


A SCHEME TO PROVIDE A MUCH BETTER BROADBAND SERVICE FOR EDDERTON

The following presentation by Cameron Warren was given to Edderton Community Council at its meeting on February 7th, 2017:

Todays Broadband:
Each year broadband/internet usage in the UK is increasing by approximately 50%, this is due to a number of reasons such as; increase in media streaming (Netflix, Amazon Video, iPlayer), increase in Smart TV ownership, increase in cloud services (Online file storage, email etc), social media platforms becoming more popular and online applications/forms for tax returns, password applications and farming.

The Problem:
Highlands and Islands currently has the 2nd lowest proportion of internet non-users in the UK and some of the population especially those who are in rural areas are at risk of digital divide and exclusion. As many members of rural communities are aware, there is sometime an issue with getting a stable internet connection and greater speeds of 2 – 5Mbps. This results in several problems for the rural population which include; not being able to access man modern day internet services, businesses can not function effectively, competitively and efficiently, young people can not access key education online resources, rural communities loose members to more urban area.

Why is there this problem?
This problem exists because broadband travels down old copper cable which was not designed for what it is being used for now. The further away from the FTTC/exchange properties are the worse the signal. Decent fast fibre speeds can only be achieved if you are within 2km of the FTTC cabinet or exchange. Many properties are connected directly to the exchange which means adding extra cabinets are not feasible. The UK is behind in the internet infrastructure. For BT Openreach to enable every rural house it would be too expensive. There are alternatives such as satellite broadband but they come with their own problems such as high monthly cost £60+ and high latency.

The Proposal:
The proposal is to setup a Community Broadband Scheme using fixed wireless equipment to first serve people who have none or poor internet connection in the village and then expanding it to cover the whole village shortly after. The service would be open to properties in and around the Edderton area. There would also be the future possibility/option to join other communities to the spread the service over a wider area and gain a greater backhaul connection.

How would it work?
A fast internet backhaul connection would be installed into a central place in the village. This internet signal would then be transmitted using line of sight wireless technology to a natural high point in the area and then relayed down to individuals houses. Properties would need to install a small receiver on the side of the property to receive the signal. A small black unit will be installed in the property to enable the property with WiFi. If there are specific areas that cannot receive a line of sight signal a relay station can be constructed to overcome the line of sight issue. A rolling upgrade plan will be created to ensure that none of the equipment reach end of life. Once the system is installed in the property there is the possibility for properties to move their home phone and number over to a VoIP system (Voice over Internet Protocol) and use a VoIP phone provider such as Vonage.

Internet Speed:
There are 2 different definition of superfast internet in the UK – Ofcoms define it as 30Mbps or above and the UK government define it as 24Mbps or above. The proposed system will have a initial download speed of 30 – 50 Mbps and once the majority of customers are connected and I am happy the network is stable, properties will be upgraded to a higher speed. Incorporated into the earlier mentioned rolling upgrade plan, the system will move with technology advances and achieve higher speeds.

Will BT forget us?
The simple answer to this is ‘technically no’. Currently going through the UK Houses of Parliament there is a new bill called the Digital Economy Bill – this includes something called the USO (Universal Service Obligation). This will mean that any property will have the legal right to access 10Mbps broadband. However BT will most likely plug the rural gap with expensive satellite broadband systems.

Benefits to the community:
The benefits to the community for the community broadband project would be; stable super fast internet, retention of families and businesses, improved access to educational opportunities, the ability for farmers/crofters business to download and submit document(e.g Crofting Commission, HMRC etc), greater equality for the rural population, on the job training for community members and the possibility of individual properties gaining BDUK subsidy.

What’s Next?
To move the project forward a small group needs to be created to carry out a number of tasks. These tasks would include gauging the community interest, scoping our project area, deciding on the legal structure and operation of the project, be trained in the system and hold a public meeting to showcase the project once the planning is complete. The group would meet every few months or as and when needed. Contact Cameron Warren if you are interested in joining the group. The contact details are cameron@cpwit.co.uk or 01463 896 304.

Ted Venn – 9th February 2017


Community Broadband

Updates on progress have recently been requested from Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) and the Kyle of Sutherland Development Trust (KoSDT). Conflicting responses have been received. HIE now considers the possibility of a Community Broadband scheme not to be viable, as fibre optic cables are reaching further than anticipated. As a consequence HIE has claimed that the number of premises needing a solution to provide a better broadband service is now much less than originally thought. However, KoSDT is having a meeting with Community Broadband Scotland (part of HIE) in a fortnight or so, and it is hoped that a better idea of what is happening will emerge after that meeting.

There is obviously considerable local concern over continual delays and indecision about the provision of a more acceptable broadband service, and several residents have experienced a deterioration in broadband speeds recently, including some residents within the main part of the village that had previously benefited from an improved fibre optic service. The Scottish Government has made a commitment to provide superfast broadband (30m/bps+) by 2021, but that objective does still seem reliant on BT actually getting on with the work.

Ted Venn – 7th December 2016


Improvements to broadband for outlying properties are still awaited.  BT is the problem, in that they are not prepared to release postcodes of areas where an alternative broadband system can be implemented. Despite requesting our MP and MSP to intervene, nothing has happened to give any hope that a better service will get to Edderton any time soon! However, efforts will continue to be made to ensure that eventually everyone will have a more reliable and faster broadband connection.

Ted Venn – 18th November 2016


Update from Highland Council

Broadband/Mobile Reception

I have prepared this briefing as I know broadband and mobile reception are key priorities in every community in Highland.  Rightly so, we all know how important it is for modern life for people and for business, and increasingly for tourism.

This is a snapshot.  It is where the various projects are in July 2016.

There are a range of promises by UK and Scottish Governments.

It will include:

(1) Giving every household a legal right to a fast broadband connection.

(2) New laws to help telecommunications providers build the infrastructure needed for faster broadband and better mobile networks.

(3) Allowing consumers to be automatically compensated when things go wrong with their broadband service.

In addition the SNP made a commitment in their manifesto for 100% superfast broadband by 2021.

For Highland there is the additional money in the City/Region deal £20m for The Highlands.  There is also European Funding to draw down.

High Speed Broadband

Phase 1

BT is delivering a contract for High Speed Broadband across Scotland.  The contract is managed in the Highlands and Islands by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).  Good progress has been made in Highland, though mainly to the larger towns, some villages and the City of Inverness.

This contract is due to conclude by the end of 2016 and is committed to deliver 84% coverage.  This is being delivered by fibre and is visible as the new green boxes (cabinets) in our communities.

This is the latest roll out news with latest locations. The news section is where the updates can be found

There has been good customer take up of new high speed broadband once installed, and this has meant that BT has committed to reinvest some of its profits in further extension of the network called “gain share”. The final roll out is now estimated at 86%.

Phase 2

There is likely to be a Phase 2 contract, to reach beyond the 84% reach of Phase 1.

Again this is to be managed in the Highlands and Islands by HIE.  At present the thinking is to break this contract into smaller parts to enable more competition from potential providers.

However, in the light of the Scottish Government’s promise of 100% Broadband cover, everyone is now waiting for their implementation plan, due early autumn.

There is approximately £42 million available for phase 2, with an indicative figure of £25 for H&I region.

City-Region Deal

In the Inverness City-Region Deal there is £20m ear marked for broadband expansion.

Once we have more idea of how far any new contract will reach we can plan good use of this welcome extra money to go beyond the easier to reach places.

An implementation plan will be drawn up with HC & HIE.

So in conclusion – Risks:–

Unsure of contract size, timing and if fully funded

Contract delays and procurement delays

Waiting for Scottish Government decisions

It may become clearer later in 2016 .

Community Broadband Scotland

Community Broadband Scotland is an organisation set up to help communities who will not be reached by the large contracts to improve broadband.  There has been some good success in remote areas, mainly through the provision of locally run wireless networks.

The Choice

The difficult choice for many communities is:-

Do we wait to see if we will get BT type cabinets in a new contract, or

Do we plan a project with Community Broadband Scotland.

The difficulty is that if you embark on the CBS route to spend public money on wireless investment it would mean you could not change your mind and have cabinets and high speed broadband as well.

A difficult and frustrating call

CBS is a good option where you have:-

A keen community willing to take things on.

A community willing to run a business – that is what it could be.

Some projects in Argyll have grouped together and have attracted a local internet service provider (ISP).

Mobile Reception

This is set to improve dramatically over 2016/17 in Highland.

Mobile phone companies are obligated by UK Government to get 90%+ coverage across the UK.   (Of course the H&I will have much of the 10% not reached).

This is to be 4G roll out and will be extensively along Trunk roads where we have many “not spots” of poor coverage.  It will be an upgrade of existing masts and some new masts.

The planning applications are beginning to arrive and some are “permitted developments” on existing masts and should go ahead fairly quickly.

In addition there is to be a major upgrade of Police/Emergency Service masts to 4G and this will have the ability to enable public access.

Many of us will see a major improvement in mobile reception this year.

Recently Cabinet Secretary for Connectivity Fergus Ewing announced a plan to increase and improve mobile coverage in Scotland. This has been agreed with mobile operators. The plan will see the Scottish Government work with the industry and other partners to maximise commercial investment in 4G mobile in Scotland, and ultimately, to support 5G-ready infrastructure across the country.

Satellite Broadband

After a period without any financial assistance, there is now a subsidy for satellite broadband users where there is no other option.  A voucher scheme is now in place whereby anyone getting speeds under 2mbps, and where there are no plans for the local exchange to be upgraded in the next 12 months, can claim a voucher.  However, a voucher will only cover the installation fees.

Conclusions

We have a mixed picture.

We have huge hope and expectations throughout Highland, and expectations from our visitors that they will also have mobile reception as they do in their homes.

There is a high-speed contract underway and another to come.  This has risks and uncertainty and perhaps funding issues around that contract.

Good news on mobile reception plans.

Councillor M Davidson – Leader of the Highland Council – July 2016

Editorial Comment

This seems to be another instance of words of reassurance rather than any actual action to improve broadband access, reliability and superfast speeds.

Ted Venn – 19th July 2016


Response from Paul Monaghan MP re Community Broadband

The SNP Scottish Government is investing in the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband programme to extend superfast broadband into areas not being reached by the market alone – particularly rural and remote parts of Scotland.

Our £410 million programme has already delivered broadband to 85% of premises in Scotland, and is on track to ensure (that) 95% of premises – both homes and businesses – have access to broadband by the end of next year.

My colleagues in the re-elected SNP (Scottish) Government will use innovative schemes, new technologies and provide the appropriate financial backing to deliver broadband to the remaining 5% of homes and businesses over the next (Scottish) Parliament.

Paul Monaghan MP

Editorial Comment:

It is to be hoped that Paul Monaghan means superfast broadband when he refers solely to “broadband”, and that everyone will benefit from superfast broadband by 2021.

Ted Venn – May 21, 2016


MSP’s response for help to improve Broadband in rural areas

I agree wholeheartedly that broadband is essential for today’s lifestyles and the fact that many small businesses are run from home means we should be pursuing coverage as a priority.  BT and HIE have committed to 84% coverage of premises by the end of 2016, but as many people will appreciate it takes some time to get all the cables laid.  This is already underway, though at a slower pace than I would like.

In its manifesto the SNP committed itself to ensuring 100% broadband coverage by the end of this parliamentary term, whether by cable or satellite or other means, and I will certainly be pressing to ensure this happens.

I will request an update from both HIE and BT to find out what the current situation is in Edderton and provide an update as soon as possible.

Gail Ross MSP for Caithness, Sutherland and Ross

The Scottish Parliament, Holyrood, Edinburgh. EH99 1SP

0131 348 5925
Gail.Ross.msp@parliament.scot

May 19, 2016


Change of Address

The Community Broadband Scotland team in Inverness are moving office.  Please note that from Monday 2 May 2016 the address will be:

Community Broadband Scotland
Highlands and Islands Enterprise
An Lòchran
10 Inverness Campus
Inverness
IV2 5NA

Calls to my old number will NOT divert automatically, so please update your records!

Tel: 0300 013 5131 (new phone number)
Mob: 07551 179 104

Email: sarah.marshall@hient.co.uk

Sarah Marshall (nee Jones)
Community Broadband Scotland Adviser

Please note new email address following name change.  

28th April 2016


Delays to the Kyle of Sutherland Community Broadband Project

As outlined in our initial plans for the broadband project we had hoped to deliver positive results on the project area by the middle of March. Unfortunately this has not been the case. We have been in discussion with Community Broadband Scotland and Sarah Marshall has provided this statement to explain the delay in the project:

“The next step for the Kyle of Sutherland Development Trust developing a community broadband project is to confirm which postcodes will not be covered by the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband (DSSB) fibre roll out programme and will therefore require a community broadband project.

CBS is working closely with the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband (DSSB) team and BT to confirm the areas where the DSSB roll out is not going and therefore where a community broadband project will be required. It had been hoped that this process would have been completed in February – March 2016. However, additional funding has come into the DSSB fibre roll out programme which means that fibre broadband is being pushed out further than originally anticipated. This means that more modelling work is needed to map out the additional fibre roll out. This process has not been finalised which means that is has not been possible to confirm which postcodes in the Kyle of Sutherland area will require a community broadband solution.

It is hoped that clarity will be gained on which postcodes will require a community broadband solution in the next two months. In the meantime, please be assured that staff at CBS are working as hard as we can to make sure everything is ready so that we can take your project to the next stage as soon as possible.”

Sarah outlined that she would be happy to field your questions on the matter, her contact details are:
Telephone: 01463 244 466 and 07551 179 104                                                                                                    E-mail:   sarah.marshall@hient.co.uk

The Kyle of Sutherland Development Trust is committed to bringing this vital project to you as soon as possible, we will be in contact when we can confirm the next phase. If you have any queries for the Trust to take forward please contact us on 01863 766 190.

16th April 2016


Explanation of postcode classification

White postcodes are where there are no plans to provide fibre coverage through the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband (DSSB) fibre roll out or through commercial fibre roll out

Grey post codes are where there will be partial fibre coverage

Black postcodes are where there is fibre available to at least 80% of premises

Currently, CBS can fund projects in white postcode areas. HOWEVER, there is significant discussion going on over how CBS can provide a service in grey postcodes. CBS hopes to gain clarity on this in the coming weeks and will provide an update on this once a consensus has been reached.

16th April 2016


At last night’s meeting of Edderton Community Council it was reported that the possibility of benefiting from a Community Broadband proposal is still being explored. Enquiries with the Kyle of Sutherland Development Trust and Highlands and Islands Enterprise have revealed that both organisations are currently waiting to hear from BT on which postcode areas could be included within a Community Broadband Scheme.

Highland and Islands Enterprise will shortly be providing this website with a detailed explanation of how the Community Broadband service is operated and how areas for inclusion are selected.  Basically BT has to determine appropriate areas, and these are centred on postcodes that are designated as ‘black’ (adequate coverage), ‘grey’ (partial coverage), or ‘white’ (no coverage).  However, the downside is that by providing a Community Broadband service, a good return (profit) has to be the main criteria.

Ted Venn – 6th April 2016


The Kyle of Sutherland Development Trust would like to thank everyone who completed and returned the recent questionnaire on a proposed community broadband project.

To keep you up to speed this is a short update to let you know how the project is progressing.

A significant number of households responded to the survey and the majority gave positive responses thus we are now able to move to the next stage of the process.

The next stage is to agree the project area, this is done through a discussion with BT to find out which areas they will not upgrade to ‘super-fast’ speeds.  This discussion should be concluded by the middle of March, when we will announce the project area.

In the meantime if you have any queries about the project please do not hesitate to drop Calum an e-mail on cdassist@kyleofsutherland.co.uk or call 01863 766 190.

Thanks again for your interest in the scheme!

February 3rd, 2016


Although the survey ended on December 11, 2015, the Kyle of Sutherland Development Trust is still keen to hear from anyone in the Edderton area who is interested in the possibility of a Community Broadband (Internet) service.

Community Broadband would be provided from a telecommunication mast and would solve the slow and sometimes intermittent Broadband service currently experienced by households that are over 2km from the nearest fibre-optic cabinet. Residents in  Bonar Bridge now have superfast speeds, and Ardgay should be connected to the superfast service in early 2016. Some of Edderton’s households also have superfast Broadband speeds, though these households are fairly near the telephone exchange.

If you would like to know more about the Community Broadband project, contact can be made with the Kyle of Sutherland Development Trust by either phoning 01863 766 190 or  sending an e-mail to cdassist@kyleofsutherland.co.uk.

The Kyle of Sutherland Development Trust’s mailing address is:

Kyle of Sutherland Development Trust

Trust Offices

Bonar Bridge, Sutherland IV24 3EB