Broadband options, charitable status and future timetable

Post in Infrastructure by Steve Jones
The GDB group have been busy investigating our options for improved broadband in the Garve & District area. Here's an overview of where we currently stand.

Satellite Grant Scheme

The Satellite Grant Scheme, funded by the LCT, was launched in early May and closed on 31 July. It provided annual grants to individuals to subsidize satellite broadband (faster than current BT provision in this community). This is an interim solution while GDB continues to work with BT and fixed wireless network companies to establish a permanent one.

GDB had funding for 40 grants but only 9 applications were received and funded.

It is disappointing that take-up has been relatively low, given the reported importance of broadband to the community in recent surveys, and the undoubted benefits of satellite over BT for most parts of the community.

Fixed Wireless Network

This long-term solution would provide all our needs for speed and data capacity at a cost similar to that of other fibre cable options. The main fibre cable near each exchange is tapped into. Relay stations placed in identified locations to achieve line of sight send a signal is sent to a receiver on the outside of each subscriber’s property.

We began the tender process with three companies. One dropped out when it ceased trading in May.

The two remaining companies are finalising tender proposals. The final tenders are expected during September.

BT Fibre Cable

The Director of the HIE DSBB roll-out programme (government funded) and the Director of BT in the Highlands are still committing to end March 2018 for the Achnasheen green box. The more conservative estimate on the BT Open Reach website remains as the second half of 2018. The actual delivery date will only be clarified when OpenReach has done a detailed survey in Achnasheen this autumn.

Meanwhile GDB is working with the BT Community Fibre Partnership (BT CFP), BT’s Commercial arm, through the Director of BT in the Highlands.

BT CFP has produced an outline proposal for Fibre-To-The-Premises (FTTP) covering Little Garve to Aultguish and Gorstan to Achanalt. This would provide ultra-fast broadband to the large number of premises whose broadband is not improved by the Fibre-To-The-Cabinet (FTTC) installations in Garve (now live) and next year in Achnasheen.

BT CFP plan to undertake a site survey of these areas soon  and produce a final tender proposal in October. GDB will assess all three proposals against a set of criteria in September/October.

GDB Organisational update

GDB's charitable status as a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation, was approved by Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) in June 2017. The Trustees will shortly be seeking members. The GDB Trustees are Mark Dale, Moira Harris, Steve Jones (Chairman), Barry Peters and Jackie West.

Future Timetable

While dependent on the delivery of tender proposals and availability of GDB Trustees, the future timetable up to the end of the year looks broadly as follows:

  • review wireless and fibre solutions and decide which one / combination is best for getting better broadband to all the community
  • agree the solution and funding with the LCT
  • engage widely and deeply with the community to enable them to understand the solutions being proposed and to encourage their take-up
  • negotiate a contract with the chosen supplier

We would hope to agree a contract for the delivery of the chosen solution during 1Q 2018.

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