We are of course very pleased to be selected as a finalist for the 2020 Scottish Rural Awards, in the entirely unsurprising category of: Best Countryside Digital Innovator. This is further recognition, if any were needed, of the commitment and determination of our local community to bring our area to the global forefront of digital connectivity.
The awards are announced at the beginning of April 2020, so we’ll just have to live with the suspense until then.
I know it’s been a while between updates, but that’s the way of the world: stuff however has been happening, even if the weather has resolutely refused to cooperate over the last few months.
But the good news, almost exactly two years since the very first connection went live, is that we’re 90% of the way there, with 146 out of the 162 currently accessible properties now actually connected, and with ducting laid to another 7. Continue reading Christmas 2019 Update
Just as the rest of the world discovers 5G mobile networks (which is a whole other story), we finally have 4G coverage in the Balquhidder area. That is on the EE network, and via their new masts that were installed for the new Emergency Services Network (and don’t get us started on THAT).
So, if you’re thinking of moving to EE to take advantage of this, be aware that there are a few things to consider:
- The network locally, as in many rural areas, runs at 800MHz, a lower frequency than most 4G networks (including most of the rest of EE’s). That has two effects – it reaches further (good) and has a lower data bandwidth (less good). Anywhere else, your phone will automatically choose whichever frequency is available. At Stronvar, I’m getting about 5Mb/s download and 2-3Mb/s upload indoors and about 5Mb/s both ways out of doors.
- It’s 4G only, which means that you either have 4G or nothing – unlike other places, it doesn’t fall back to 3G when you run out of 4G coverage. Again, that’s only an issue where a base station is 4G only, such as in the glen. This means that there may be some dead patches in the glen, particularly heading up towards Monachyle Mhor – I haven’t had a chance to test this out yet.
- Latency is ridiculously bad here – around 650ms and about 10x worse than it should be – which could cause problems for some online services. I have no idea why that’s the case – there’s no good reason for it.
- If you buy an EE SIM for your phone, EE doesn’t automatically configure your account/SIM for the 800MHz network, so it appears that you have no coverage. It takes a call to EE support to get this sorted.
There’s no sign yet of Vodafone or O2 getting their act together on 4G for the local area yet, despite the latter putting in for planning consent several years ago. So if you need data coverage when you’re away from your broadband’s Wi-Fi and the coverage works for you, EE seems currently to be the only game in town.
IMPORTANT: We are aiming to splice the fibre to properties between the village and Mhor 84 starting from 15 May. So, if you’re a householder on that route, please make sure that you’ve got the drop tubing to your house in place and buried before then if you want to be connected, if this hasn’t already been done. We can’t guarantee when any properties that miss out this time will be connected.
For the last couple of months, the team has been working flat out to get the ducting in to enable us to get to the entire eastern end of the glen, from the village east to Mhor 84.
After a huge push in late April to get the job done, last weekend saw the fibre blown into the final stretch from Auchleskine to the cabinet at the village hall.
Continue reading (Another) Big Push, Pull and Haul
Much of the winter so far has been spent tidying up existing runs and sorting out the final permissions and routes for the rest of the network. But last weekend saw the pouring of the concrete for our final cabinet, at Mhor 84, and today the cabinet itself was installed on the new plinth. Continue reading Mhor 84 Cabinet installed…
After the splicing work in mid-December week we have 71 (36%) of all the properties in the glen connected, including Rhuveag, all of Craigruie and the Boathouse. The full loop around Loch Voil is now complete, which enables us to start work on reaching the outlying properties towards Inverlochlarig and Immeroin. Monachyle Mhor is now at last online itself. Completion of the final backbone ducting from Auchtubh to Mhor 84 is just awaiting final agreement from BEAR Scotland, after which we can get our contractor to work on the road section of that dig. As soon as that’s complete, we can blow fibre east from the village and start splicing and connecting everything between Auchleskine and Mhor 84. Continue reading Christmas 2018 Update
We’re pleased (and gratified, no less) that Balquhidder Community Broadband’s founders, Richard Harris and David Johnston, have each been honoured with a Special Achievement Award in 2018’s Stirling Provost’s Civic Awards.
The presentation took place on 26 October, at a dinner in the historic surroundings of the Great Hall of Stirling Castle, where Kings, Queens and nobility have eaten, drunk, made merry and murdered each other for 800 years. This was a slightly more civilised affair, however, with the only notable casualties being the Haggis and Chickens who were on the night’s menu.
INCA – the Independent Networks Co-operative Association – is the body representing all independent, community and other alternative network (alt-net) operators in the UK.
At their 2018 Awards in London on 5th November, we’re very pleased to say that we took the award for Best Community Project. We regard that as recognition of the huge effort by the community, individuals and our ISP partners, Bogons, that have gone into the founding, planning, fund-raising, design and doing of our network. So all we’ve got to do now is get the ties off, get back out into the fields and keep digging – we’re not finished yet! And congratulations to all the other award winners for helping pull the UK into the twenty-first century, despite all the blockers put in the way by incumbent operators and egregious officialdom.
Balquhidder Community Broadband has been named as one of five examples of outstanding rural innovation in Scotland, after winning the Transport and Infrastructure category of the 2018 Scottish Rural Innovators Awards.
Held every two years, the awards are organised and hosted by Scottish Rural Action to highlight excellence in rural innovation in meeting the needs of rural communities. The winning projects will all be showcased at the Scottish Rural Parliament which is being held in Stranraer from 14-16 November.
Along with last week’s Stirling Provost’s Civic award, it’s good that we’re getting at degree of recognition outside the immediate industry for the dozen years of campaigning and hard work that have got us all to where we are now.
Here is Scottish Rural Action’s press release in full…
Continue reading BCB named as one of Scotland’s Top Rural Innovators
It’s astonishing what can be achieved when a community pulls together! (sorry…). With today’s goals being to lay 3km of 96- fibre-in-duct backbone from Dhanakosa to Monachyle Beag on the Northern Loop and to lay 800m of ducting to connect the Southern Loop from Tuarach to Monachyle Mhor, we put out the call. And our community responded: no less than thirty people turned out to form a human tugging and pulling chain over some seriously rough and muddy terrain. Continue reading The Big Pull