Last Scottish Island Exchange

Discussion in 'Broadband' started by Mick, Sep 1, 2006.

  1. Mick

    Mick Guest

    Scotsman carried a story on the 28th of August that the last remote Scottish
    Island is now on (512kb) broadband, the island being Foula in Shetland.

    Does anyone know if Foula has it's own exchange or is it just on a microwave
    link? If it's just a microwave link then BT are giving out totally false
    information than just misleading information.

    We on the island of Graemsay in Orkney have been promised various dates with
    July gone as the absolute latest followed by 'to becompleted by the Autumn',
    this information from BT's regional manager Richard Scoular who also says it
    now may not be even this year due to the backhaul in Stromness which
    currently has 8mb.

    Good job that at a senior BT managers advice I kept my 24/7 NTL dialup
    service. It's very annoying that due to BT's inadequate service it is
    costing some islanders more for dialup than some folk pay for broadband.

    g r a e m s a y @ n t l w o r l d . c o m

    Mick, Sep 1, 2006
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  2. Mick

    Ian B Guest

    Apparently it has it's own exchange.
    According to the news item on ADSLGuide the press statement did
    include that information..

    "BT makes the comment that there are still 10,000 BT customers across
    Scotland who have telephone lines too long to receive ADSL, which when
    you consider Scotland is home to some 5 million people is not too
    bad." is a good source for keeping in touch
    with this sort of thing.
    Ian B, Sep 1, 2006
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  3. Mick

    Eeyore Guest
    Eeyore, Sep 1, 2006
  4. Mick

    Mick Guest

    Graemsay microwave link is about 1 mile from Stromness exchange and BT are
    supposed to have the equipment now in their possesion to upgrade the link
    but are blaming the backhaul in Stromness for the delay. If I hadn't read
    that some wireless network links over tidal water was having trouble then I
    could have shared with a relative in Stromness but we are both down at shore
    Mick, Sep 1, 2006
  5. Mick

    Tony Polson Guest

    It makes you wonder whether OFCOM should impose a requirement on BT to
    offer a universal and affordable broadband service to the whole of the
    population of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in a similar way that
    the Royal Mail is obliged to offer a universal postal service at a
    uniform rate.
    Tony Polson, Sep 1, 2006
  6. Mick

    NoNeedToKnow Guest

    Will you be pushing for universal access to mains sewerage and gas then ?
    Unfortunately some services are very costly to provide to "all and sundry".

    It wasn't that long ago that some small valley in Wales finally had mains
    power provided to a string of farms. If there are some 10,000 properties
    without high speed access to the internet, then the options they have
    include (a) using a combination of 56k for tx and satellite for rx and
    (b) move home. Some may say that option (b) is a non-starter and
    option (a) is too costly. There have been various grants to assist
    small businesses out in rural areas, but there are surely limits over
    what 'level playing field' can be expected on a national level, and if
    higher speed internet is deemed 'essential' then moving might be a
    necessity. It's the same for about 50% of the population if they're
    to ever get 'cable' access, isn't it.
    NoNeedToKnow, Sep 1, 2006
  7. Mick

    ricardianno Guest

    We've had broadband, albeit at 512K only, since August 2005. The
    microwave links between Stronsay, Sanday, Eday and mainland Orkney seem
    unaffected by tidal waters.
    Bruce Fletcher
    Stronsay, Orkney
    "Don't think of it as getting hot flushes, think of it as your inner
    child playing with matches"
    ricardianno, Sep 1, 2006
  8. Mick

    Mick Guest

    It wasn't the microwave link being affected by the tides but wireless
    networking at 2.4ghz I was talking about . One area using a wireless mesh
    network with access over a tidal flow are having problems at extreme low
    tides. Same as we get with the TV. I used to have to have two seperate
    aerials for terrestial tv set at different heights. It was alright unless
    wanting to record a program whilst out and having to consult both tv times
    and a tide table. - Mick
    Mick, Sep 1, 2006
  9. Mick

    ricardianno Guest

    I gave up trying to get a decent terrestrial TV signal and signed up for
    Sky. Having said that, I don't think we've watched more than a couple
    of hours of TV since moving up here 2 years ago.
    Bruce Fletcher
    Stronsay, Orkney
    "Don't think of it as getting hot flushes, think of it as your inner
    child playing with matches"
    ricardianno, Sep 1, 2006
  10. My village in rural south Wales apparently had electricity supplied in the
    Today, there's still no mains gas - and never will be - and only a few
    houses near the centre of the village are on mains sewerage. The rest of us
    make do with septic tanks.
    It never ceases to amaze me that we actually got broadband.

    George Weston, Sep 1, 2006
  11. Mick

    Mick Guest

    I tried to get a Sky when they offered free box if you subscribed but the
    Kirkwall agent missed two apointments and then said it wasn't worth his
    while coming out to fit. Sky offered me a months free viewing on a none
    existent service. When I purchased and installed my own box they then said I
    could have my free month only when I had paid a 12 months subscription. The
    joys of living on a small island! But the advantages far outweigh the
    disadvantages. Now just have free to air programmes on satellite.

    Good news is that BT's head of Scottish Affairs has informed me this
    afternoon that we are to get adsl before the end of the year and we are to
    get the same platform as Stromness. Now to decide which ISP to use.
    Mick, Sep 1, 2006
  12. Mick

    Tony Polson Guest

    Unfortunately, providing Royal Mail service to the more remote parts
    of the UK is also very costly. However, Royal Mail is obliged to
    deliver mail to those areas for the standard UK rates of postage.

    So I repeat, why not universal broadband?
    Tony Polson, Sep 2, 2006
  13. Mick

    Mick Guest

    Living on an island I of course agree with you Tony. There isn't one of the
    couriers that take money for delivering parcels here do so. Not even a phone
    call to say it's coming, just drop it on the ferry and trust to luck that
    you find it or a neighbour will pick it up and deliver it. . Royal Mail is
    the only one that actually delivers to the door. I suppose the answer is
    that everyone moves to the towns - Mick
    Mick, Sep 2, 2006
  14. Mick

    ricardianno Guest

    This island got mains electricity (via undersea cable) in the early
    1970s, prior to that most houses & farms had their own small generator.
    Some houses have a septic tank but most just discharge into the sea
    (very strong tides hereabouts). And, like George, I was pleasantly
    surprised when BT broadband (512K) arrived last year.
    Bruce Fletcher
    Stronsay, Orkney
    "Don't think of it as getting hot flushes, think of it as your inner
    child playing with matches"
    ricardianno, Sep 2, 2006
  15. Mick

    Ronnie Guest

    Well done, both BT and you.

    Can you recap for us what you understand the link arrangement is for
    Graemsay? I was wondering which band it used, roughly what the link
    distance was, whether the antennas were within a few metres of sea
    level, and whether the existing link was analogue or digital. As far
    as you know, does the existing microwave have spare capacity for
    broadband, or are BT thinking of replacing it with newer systems -
    perhaps C21 compatible? And, for a bonus 5 points :), what did BT
    mean by 'the same platform as Stromness'?

    Sorry for the questions - BT face similar problems around here and
    it's very helpful to understand what works elsewhere.

    Again, well done, especially BT - I can imagine that getting hard
    decisions through a large organisation sometimes isn't easy.

    best wishes,
    Ronnie, Sep 2, 2006
  16. Mick

    Mick Guest

    Going from memory I think we were told when it was installed that the
    microwave link was around 12Ghz but not sure as it was a good few years
    ago - It is a digital service and the Stromness antenna is about 200+ ft
    asl - island end about 50ft asl and 200 metres from shore - Total distance
    apart just over a mile I should think. - Same platform was just his way of
    saying that we should get exactly the same service as Stromness customers.

    I looked into using wireless networking at 2.4Ghz using a couple of yagi's
    but the antennas at both ends would only be between 30 & 50ft asl. I spoke
    to one engineer who had experience using 2.4Ghz over a slightly longer route
    and he said that he would expect to get problems with phase distortion at
    times with tidal & wave conditions. Thankfully I can forget having to go
    down this road now. - Mick
    Mick, Sep 2, 2006
  17. Mick

    NoNeedToKnow Guest

    and once again, I'd say "will you call for mains gas and sewerage"

    I've sympathy for those living in remote parts - I've never done that
    myself, and as a non-driver and non-cyclist it isn't something I would
    ever choose to do. Oh, and there was also the matter of the 50%
    of the populace who have no option of cable service - should that
    be "forced" on the cable network(s) as something they must also
    provide nationally?

    Broadband is a "luxury" compared with some other services, and I fail
    to see it as being classed essential with any preference over gas or
    sewerage, but none of them are likely, and that's probably where
    this thread should end, in an "agree to disagree" situation.
    NoNeedToKnow, Sep 2, 2006
  18. Mick

    Tony Polson Guest

    Then why reply at all, unless you want the last word? In which case,
    congratulations! You have had the last word.

    Thank you and "Plonk!"
    Tony Polson, Sep 2, 2006
  19. Tony Polson wrote in
    I thoroughly agree. These days broadband is not a luxury - it's becoming
    essential to many businesses that they are able to look up information on
    the web, answer email enquiries from their customers and take orders online.
    Of course that doesn't apply to every business, but more are more are
    finding that it's becoming very useful.

    Then there's the usefulness of internet access for anyone doing research,
    whether it's family history or for a school project. The ease and the low
    cost of searching, as well as the breadth of information, give it the
    advantage over text books.

    However there's no requirement for telephone companies such as BT to supply
    usable broadband universally, and even the requirement for dial-up is
    woefully low: a BT engineer told me the other day that all that they are
    *obliged* by law to provide at the standard installation price is
    intelligible (although crackly) voice and data communication at up to fax
    speeds (9600 or 14400 bps). And they are only obliged to provide the first
    line to a property on those terms; subsequent lines can be charged at cost.

    Whereas water, sewarage, electricity and telephone supplies are *almost*
    universal, there is a far bigger proportion of the population who can't get
    broadband with a speed of at least 512 kbps.

    Usually these days it's not a problem with the exchange needingt to be
    upgraded, but with the remoteness of some houses from the nearest exchange,
    or poor-quality local-loop lines.

    My parents have a cottage in the Yorkshire Dales, which is about three miles
    as the crow flies from the nearest town which has broadband. But BT have
    problems even providing a decent phone service: at best the sound quality of
    the phone is mushy, which usually results in a maximum speed of about 33.6
    kbps; at worst the whole village loses its phone service for a day or so, on
    average once every couple of months. Given that BT cannot supply any new
    lines for people who want a second line for fax or internet, I suspect that
    there is a shortage of wires to the area, probably resulting in voice-only
    multiplexers being used which wouldn't support broadband even if the line
    length was within spec.

    I've read that estate agents are already seeing the presence/absence of
    broadband as a major factor in governing house prices. Certainly it's a
    factor which would influence my choice of house.
    Martin Underwood, Sep 2, 2006
  20. wrote in
    As with so many things, it's economics. It's not so much the remoteness of
    the community. It's the size. It's economically viable to lay a decent comms
    line over a significant distance (maybe with repeaters to overcome the
    line-length restriction) if there are going to be several hundred or
    thousand people served by it. When houses are in isolated locations, each
    line may only serve one house - or at most a hamlet of maybe ten houses.

    Having said that, I bet that the cost of installing broadband-quality phone
    lines to such houses is much less than the cost of laying mains water,
    sewerage or gas pipes. Thankfully septic tanks and bottled gas provide a
    level of service which is not far short of mains level, whereas
    intermittent, slower-than-normal dial-up is a long way short of broadband.

    (Talking of gas, my parents' village has no gas: British Gas installed a
    main gas supply pipeline about 1/4 mile away but refused to run a spur off
    it into the village, even if the villagers dug the trench themselves and
    paid for the pipe, leaving BG to pay only for the specialised and
    safety-critical installation of the pipe.)
    Martin Underwood, Sep 2, 2006
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