Its not rocket science, just a WAN in a hostile environment

It was delighted to see the reference to Gigaplus Argyll in the article on Nicola Sturgeon’s launch of a new funding programme for rural broadband, funded from the state aid clawback mandated by the EU. As previous readers of this blog will know, our family croft is in the area to be served and I registered our interest some months ago.

One of the topics of discussion when I was on Mull earlier this month, (while waiting in vain for a data signal from the mast on the other side of Loch Scridain or a download over the wifi in the local pubs in Bunessan and Fionnphort), was the logistics of getting a signal to the Ross Of Mull and/or Iona. Local connectivity is not a problem, our neighbours have all the digging and trenching kit necessary for laying fibre and, as the B4RN team might say, building the network is “not rocket science, just a WAN in a hostile environment”.       

Apparently the plan is, however, to trunk a radio service over the centre of the Isle of Mull through the area where the signals for the current BT, O2/Vodafone and terrestrial TV services are regularly degraded by storms and/or the equipment “taken out” by lightning strikes, pending the arrival of repair crews from the mainland, days or even weeks later. Hence the reason for basing support and maintenance for the new service on the island. The most hostile part of the environment for any community broadband service is, however, political – hence the importance of INCA and events like that in Bristol on the 15th and 16th September 

If you are having problems with your broadband (urban or rural), write to your MP suggesting he ask who your local council is sending to the INCA events in Bristol to learn how to provide better service at lower cost, help attract the jobs of the future and promote social cohesion by: 

  • getting better value from their existing BDUK contract 
  • going out to competitive tender using the clawbacks available under that contract
  • offering access to the council’s own infrastructure and wayleaves for next generation networks and providing help with planning and regulation.