Balquhidder Community Broadband CIC is looking for a Project Officer to help with the delivery by community volunteers of the local fibre broadband network in Balquhidder.
We’ve had a number of queries about the costs and benefits of the fibre broadband, so we’re asking people to tell their own stories here, ranging from those who are only moving to the glen because of the new service to those of us whose ability to continue to live and work here depends on decent communications.
To kick things off, here’s our own example, covering what we spend now as one private household on communications and entertainment every month, what it will cost us to get our house to make best use of the new service and what we’ll then be spending after the fibre is installed:
Having finally got the health, safety and insurance bureaucracy out of the way, we’ve been able to get properly stuck in with the network dig. Now, there are a couple of ways of going about this: from picking the smallest, least disturbing tools possible and proceeding in a sensitive and non-disruptive manner, to throwing the biggest damn digger you can find at the job, on the principle that it won’t find anything it can’t handle. So guess which we went with?
There’s clearly been (and remains) a bit of confusion about how we actually get our connection to the outside world, who provides it and where it actually goes. So the day when that fibre actually got installed to our cabinet seems like a good time to describe it.
In March 2017, following a second failed procurement run through Community Broadband Scotland, we formally withdrew from that public funding process and reverted to seeking de minimis (up to €200,000) public support for our project. This followed more than three years effort in engaging with CBS, and that after its taking two years to establish whether or not we would qualify for funding. So the decision was taken with the greatest reluctance, not least because doing so would create a significant shortfall in our project budget.
Now, a parallel community project, with similar goals to ourselves and itself with a great deal of expertise, North Skye Broadband, has also been forced to withdraw from the public funding process, issuing this press release, one that we could have issued practically unchanged to describe our own experience.
It’s been quiet on the broadband news front, too quiet. But that’s not been because nothing’s been happening: quite the opposite. The silence has been born of not wishing to depress and bore people with details of the ongoing conflict we’ve had with Community Broadband Scotland and of our not being allowed to officially ‘start’ our project – apparently that could have prejudiced some of the public funding.
Images from planning, preparation and the first dig at Stronvar…
…or it is when the first segment of the network has to run along an unmade track. But here’s the first demonstration that we’re finally turning years of effort and planning into reality: this, today, is the very first section of dig for the first network segment.
It’s slightly ahead of the rest of the project – our local property developer needed to surface the track to his plots so has kindly offered to dig in the ducting for us, to save us (and him) from having to dig up his newly surfaced road again in a few weeks’ time.
But this is going to serve the first segment of network from the access point to the fibre backhaul at Stronvar, from where the network will be radiating out to the rest of the glen, just as soon as we can get ourselves and suppliers organised – that’s an ongoing job.
We’ve also got the final network design review happening next week, after which we should have everything nailed down, routes and equipment chosen. Then we’ll really be ready to get going.
As many will know by know, the pioneer project in self-assembly broadband isn’t Swedish, but from Lancashire, where the staff and volunteers of B4RN have now rolled out true fibre broadband, so far to 2600 properties, with the number growing by the day. Their service is truly future-proof, delivering 1Gb/s now, rising soon to 5Gb/s for those who want it. To put that into perspective, that’s 3x as fast on download and 17x as fast on upload as BT’s fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) service, even in the few areas where that is available. And it’s 12.5x as fast on download as BT’s so-called “Superfast Fibre” (which it isn’t). And, when there’s a demand for even more performance, all B4RN has to do is turn up the wick, not dig up the ground.
As we head into the seasonal oblivion of Christmas it’s nice to be able to do so on some good news, after the interminable bureaucratic setbacks of the last eighteen months.
Firstly, we were finally able to issue our new tender on Wednesday, through the usual government and EU mechanisms. All 62 separate documents of it. And, rather to our own surprise, no civil servants were permanently harmed during the production of it. Some ears did get singed though. Continue reading Walking Forwards for Christmas