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.
Seriously though, the various people we’ve dealt with have been as helpful as they possibly can be, and we do get a real sense of commitment to making this project happen. The blocking issues have been with the utter lack of a coherent UK communications strategy, the ‘check-box’ mentality behind so many of the so-called initiatives to deliver broadband and, above all, the utter failure of multiple government and public agencies to understand the concept of actually delivering the end result.
However, all of our public funding authorities have reaffirmed their commitment to the project, from Community Broadband Scotland, Forth Valley LEADER and Stirling Council. In current circumstances, it’s worth noting that the first two are both EU money, from the European Regional Development fund.
And finally, it appears that we may indeed be able to use the fibre that Openreach has just installed. This was put in for EE to support their forthcoming 4G mast for the Airwaves replacement emergency services network. We’re meeting with the relevant Openreach director next week to discuss this.
And of course, the 4G mast going in will, we believe, also be available as part of EE’s normal offering, so a proper mobile data service for the glen isn’t that far away.
So we hope that everyone enjoys their Christmas and New Year and can look forward to 2017 being the year we finally join the 21st century, even as the politicians in Westminster try to take us back to the 18th.