No Broadband for Balquhidder

There are two publicly funded projects to improve the reach of superfast broadband in rural Scotland. There is the government’s Step Change 2015 programme (albeit recently renamed after they realised that the 2015 target just wasn’t going to happen). BT has been gifted more than £530M of public money (£100.8M in Scotland, plus a local top-up of about £670,000 from Stirling Council) for this contract. Then there’s Community Broadband Scotland (CBS), which exists to help remote communities get connected.

Continue reading No Broadband for Balquhidder

Satellite Broadband Services

Summary

Satellite broadband services can locally provide stop-gap solutions pending the roll-out of the Community Broadband Scotland and Step Change 2015 projects. They can also provide in-fill coverage to properties that may remain beyond the cost-effective reach of current or forthcoming terrestrial solutions.

A pilot installation of Eutelsat’s Tooway Ka band satellite broadband service, provided by Avonline, a Tooway reseller, has been operating in Balquhidder since September 2013. 

Note: this should be read in conjunction with this later article, describing, from experience, the basic failings with the commercial model of satellite internet provision.

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Continuing Packet Loss

Right since I started using Tooway, my monitoring device (a RIPE Atlas monitor) has been recording periods of packet loss on the Tooway network. I’ve raised this several times with Avonline’s technical support but never received a meaningful answer, or indeed one that demonstrates that they understand the issues. Periods of packet loss do not appear to correlate with heavy precipitation.

So, until proven otherwise, we have to assume that this is an inherent property of their service. So what does that mean?

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Traffic Shaping

Avonline have supplied their “Absolute” package, which was the introductory Tooway package. It provides – in principle – unlimited usage, subject to their Fair Access Policy (FAP). What that effectively means is that, if  you go over 60GB (that’s what I was told – the FAP now says 50GB) usage in a rolling 30 day period, you are subject to throttling of your download and upload speeds until the peaks of high usage ‘fall off’ the rolling calendar. That throttling applies between 0700 and 2300 every day, but even data usage outwith those times count towards the calculation. Continue reading Traffic Shaping