Monday, October 17, 2016

Nairnshire's digitally deprived speak up at Cawdor CC meeting

Last week’s Community Council meeting in Cawdor also saw the issue of lack of superfast broadband in some rural areas debated. Recently too there was discussion in East Nairnshire. Attending the Cawdor CC meeting were Highland Councillors Michael Green and Liz MacDonald. The meeting heard from Felix Spittle of Community Broadband Scotland which is part of HIE and has been set up to try and get the service to the 5% of the country where normal provision isn’t going to reach. 

He said that the fibre option for superfast would reach 84% of the Highlands by the end of the year by that he meant speeds above 30mbs. For the areas that were currently going without he outlined the options. CBS could provide 89% of the capital cost of infrastructure and also help with the scoping work. Communities could pay BT to put in more of the green cabinets (an expensive option but some communities were going down that route). There was the 89% funding option from CBS which could include wireless or satellite services.

The meeting heard from a resident of Regoul Geddes who had been part of a delegation that recently had meetings with Fergus Ewing. Fergus had told them that it was SNP policy to get 100% coverage in Scotland by 2021 and that a new study would be starting by the middle of next year. Felix Spittle was of the opinion that this study, he called it an “open market review” would begin within the next couple of months and may lead to different methods of delivery of superfast broadband. 

Liz MacDonald suggested that a survey was done to indentify the needs in the village such as had been done up at Geddes. She also suggested that perhaps the future Tom nan Clach community benefit wind farm cash could be used to help upgrade the service. 

Felix Spittle stated that there was a big corridor of difficult places for Superfast Broadband south of the A96.

The meeting heard from one resident who said that there were issues now with the school requesting pupils to do homework over the internet. People in rural areas were being turned into second class citizens he claimed. It was expressed that there was a sense of unfairness and there should be equality of cost for what was becoming an essential service. 

It is obvious that this all remains a hot topic in rural Nairshire areas and there are people that are finding it difficult to keep up with the modern world without a superfast connection. In digital terms some folk are indeed becoming second class citizens and as we move more and more into a digitally dependent world – you keep up or get left behind. The SNP have promised full coverage by 2021 but with the speed technology moves there may be some people that get left a long way behind unless specific solutions are found for their locations. Compared to the towns and cities though the digitally deprived find their influence in the greater scheme of things to speed things along is diminished by their lack of numbers. 

On the brighter side though, across Scotland there seems to be a lot of action through a mix of possible solutions though as the community in Ullapool have shown - article in the National here. Big or small there seem to be options for the digitally deprived but the onus is on them to get organised and take them - should politicians be doing more?

Previous Gurn articles
"Superfast Broadband and mobile reception - Margert Davidson, Leader of Highland Council outlines levels of frustration and expectation rising every month throughout the Highlands" here

"Broadband issues in East Nairnshire - Big noise coming down the line soon?" here. 

Recently Fergus Ewing hit back at criticism of the Superfast roll out in rural areas. Article in the National newspaper here. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Good to see local communities becoming proactive in finding solutions to providing broadband to those rural areas with low population densities.
Makes a change from those whose preference it is to sit on their backsides doing nothing but complain about BT Openreach.