Balquhidder on Radio 4

On 6 April 2015, I was interviewed by Eddie Mair on BBC Radio 4’s prime time news programme, PM, about the dire situation for local digital connectivity (broadband, mobile and TV). In short, it appears that due to poor contracting and contract management by Digital Scotland, the government body charged with implementation of the government’s commitment to rural broadband, many areas remain as complete broadband “not-spots”, with two publicly funded development projects which do not operate in a remotely joined up way and where the main project has been let to a private monopoly (BT) that is not being required to consider anything other than its normal commercial criteria for rollout. It is not, for instance, neither required to nor has demonstrated any interest in, working with the other public project, Community Broadband Scotland, to cost-effectively facilitate local community initiatives.

The end result of course is very poor value for money in both projects, a failure to meet, in the real-world, the original intent of these projects, as opposed to the ridiculous box-ticking exercises that are being used to justify the current approach.

The interview itself is here:

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.

Continue reading Satellite Broadband Services

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?

Continue reading Continuing Packet Loss

The Gigabit Glen