Even the depths of rural Scotland has faster broadband than me
Now, when I moved from a main street in to the ‘village’ area I had to give up my fibre optic for ADSL broadband because Virgin, or any other provider for that matter, hadn’t run their cable through this part of Walthamstow, London. The Tegola project, on the other hand, has actually hooked up highspeed broadband in the Knoydart peninsula!
Project Tegola, lead by Edinburgh computer scientist Peter Buneman, is currently beaming superfast broadband from a college on the Isle of Skye to a number of remote communities which would otherwise be left without anything remotely like a decent internet connection.
Sheep Farmer, Iain Wilson, tends his flock over 3,000 acres of the Knoydart Peninsula which has no roads and no mains power. His farmhouse relies on his own home-made hydroelectric unit for power, and his sheep go to market by boat. This is a little more remote than living a 7 minute walk away from the high street, Virgin!
To rub salt into my wounds, the remote outpost on the mainland has faster broadband than many in the city, and good enough for a video chat with his son in Australia.
The connection is provided by a small receiver on the hill behind the house which picks up the wireless broadband signal from Skye and, being the first in the chain, Wilson gets some of the best speeds.
Buneman says the key is fibre and, without any structured cabling service management, getting a superfast connection to a hub like the Gaelic College and then spreading it wirelessly to places which will otherwise miss out.
This is very much a community project with everyone chipping in with building and maintaining the mast – with instructions from Buneman should something go wrong.
When Peter Buneman was planning the network, which now reaches out to the island of Eigg, he was told by a major broadband company that they’d never put a mast on Knoydart as, if they needed to send an engineer they would have to fly one over in a helicopter at a cost of £3,000.
“If you want fast broadband and you live in the country you may have to get your hands dirty and do it yourself”
The Tegola project has not been expensive either. It started with an academic research grant and then a local fish farm ‘chipped’ in with some help, and the users now pay a voluntary £10 a month subscription.
Buneman foresees a national network of open-access fast fibre hubs at schools, hospitals and community centres.
Now, I wonder if I can get this set up in E17?