Broadband in Rannoch
COMMUNITY NEWSLETTER 7 June 2017
AN UPDATE ON RANNOCH & TUMMEL’S COMMUNITY BROADBAND
You will be aware from earlier communications that Rannoch Community Trust (RCT) agreed to lead on the Community Broadband Project following the demise of the long standing efforts of the earlier project at the west end of Loch Rannoch. The new project is being led by RCT Trustees Gordon Brown and Ali Penman.
Following a recent meeting in the village hall to update those interested on the progress of the Community Broadband Project, we agreed to put together an overview of the current status of the project. The work of the Scottish Government and its institutions as well as BT on this matter is complex, therefore the following is based on our understanding at this point in time. It is a long report but covers;
1. What is the current situation?
2. Survey Results
3. What does this mean for Rannoch?
4. What options are available?
5. What next?
1. WHAT IS THE CURRENT SITUATION?
Download speeds for internet access in parts of the Rannoch & Tummel Community Council area can be as low as 0.1 – 1.0 Megabits per second (Mbps) dependent on location. Properties in the village do experience variable, but higher speeds.
For its part, the Scottish Government has committed to achieving superfast broadband for all premises in Scotland by the end of 2021. Superfast broadband is defined as 30 Mbps or above and in no case as being less than 24 Mbps. Good internet access is regarded as a public utility with a growing expectation that people in general should be using the internet. However, areas such as ours have serious problems in accessing services.
RCT have been liaising with Community Broadband Scotland (CBS) and Perth & Kinross Council (PKC) since last summer on options for improved connectivity in Rannoch & Tummel:
- we started down the CBS 10 step process to Superfast Broadband – this was a framework facilitated by CBS to enable communities to work towards the implementation of a community led broadband solution. This process was to be supported by technical and funding experts from CBS.
- we asked all residents to complete a survey which was analysed with data provided to CBS & PKC (see section 2 for an overview of the results)
- we have spoken with various suppliers and other community groups to understand the challenges and benefits of Community Broadband projects elsewhere in Scotland
- a number of people in Highland Perthshire independently gave written evidence to the Scottish Parliament’s Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee last November, highlighting the problems faced by private households and businesses in trying to cope with ultra-low broadband speeds.
Unfortunately we are at an interim point in the government’s broadband programme. The Scottish Government is at the end of the first 5 year phase 1 Digital Scotland programme. They are reviewing the progress so far and analysing the still significant gaps in connectivity in some parts of the country. A major concern is simply how expensive it is to provide connectivity to remote rural areas where population density is low and the geography difficult.
The previous mainstream contract in Scotland was awarded to BT on a postcode basis. This was not sufficient to provide superfast broadband to many of the more complex communities. It is proposed that all future procurement will be allocated on a property basis within specified geographical areas. The new 5 year programme until 2021 is called R100 (reaching 100%) and aims to make superfast broadband available to all premises in Scotland by 2021. Phase 1 data is being analysed at the moment which will be followed by a state aid public consultation in the summer. The work will then go to tender /procurement for implementation from 2018 onwards
2. SURVEY RESULTS
We have approximately 400 properties in the Rannoch & Tummel Community Council Areas. Surveys were hand delivered to all of these properties.
- 92 forms were returned which included 5 from Trinafour and 6 from east Loch Tummel who would like to participate in any project
- 34 were from Kinloch Rannoch village (approx. 150 properties)
- 26 of the respondents were from business users
- 4 have already chosen to install satellite technology
- Average speeds in the village are download: 8.5 upload 0.7
- West of the village average speeds are download: 0.29-3.6 upload: 0.1-1.0
- 73 respondents would support a Community Broadband solution however the preferred monthly fee varied considerably
3. WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR RANNOCH?
Simply, Rannoch unfortunately entered the project process with CBS too late. The CBS funds (from Europe) to support communities with the implementation of Community Broadband solutions were “ring-fenced” at the end of last year allowing CBS only to work with the 16-18 most advanced communities from the phase 1 programme – these include Loch Tay* and Glen Lyon. We have been told that if any of these projects do not progress e.g. because they cannot find a supplier, then Rannoch will move up the list.
(*Loch Tay’s broadband suppler AB Internet has recently gone into administration indicating the volatility of this market and the potential challenges with the provision of broadband services to remote, rural locations.)
If not, and no supplier bids for the Rannoch area as part of the R100 procurement exercise, we will then be eligible to participate in the new "to be defined" CBS programme which will be fully funded by the Scottish Government. Although this funding has yet to be defined, it has been indicated that Rannoch is in a good position to be relatively high on this list based on our community plan, our needs, our rurality and our positive approach.
Rannoch's position should be clearer by the late summer/ autumn
4. WHAT OPTIONS ARE AVAILABLE?
1. Residents review individually how they can improve their connectivity – satellite is an option and the voucher scheme for residential properties which covers installation costs will continue until the end of 2017. More details on this were provided in an earlier email however please contact Gordon Brown should you wish further information.
2. Rannoch waits to see if we become one of the 18 ring-fenced CBS communities. We will know in 3-4 months. This route uses European funding and requires the community to take a more active role in managing the procurement and implementation.
3. Rannoch awaits the outcome of R100 review in the late summer / autumn to see whether a supplier tenders through this process to install improved broadband. If we are out of scope then we will be considered as a CBS (or whatever this body is during the R100 phase) priority community. This process would then be Scottish government funded with a centrally managed procurement and implementation programme requiring less local resource.
4. Rannoch pursues a private investment route with interested suppliers i.e. a private investment company has expressed an interest in scoping a community broadband solution in Rannoch and attracting independent and remote investors to support this project . This would still require significant work from the community and appropriate due diligence of supplier and funding / investment proposals.
We should be aware that owing to the location of Rannoch & Tummel and the number of households affected (and the predicted take-up rates of those properties), we are not an attractive investment option for most suppliers. We would also need to work with local businesses to ensure maximum uptake
5. WHAT NEXT?
1. RCT continue to hold discussions with suppliers and other communities who are working with the same issues to identify possible solutions.
2. RCT are in discussion with PKC about accessing funding which would allow us to employ a technical consultant to advice the community on the feasibility of various approaches – expertise that we do not have.
3. RCT continue their dialogues with various stakeholders to strengthen the position of the Rannoch & Tummel community for any future national programme. RCT will not undertake political lobbying.
4. RCT will continue to engage with the local community so as to exchange information, consider suggestions and broaden everybody’s understanding of the options that are open to us.
5. Local residents can choose to write to local elected members (PKC Councillors and MSPs) to express their individual concerns about the approach being taken by the local and national authorities. A template has been drafted below should you wish to use this.
If you have any further questions or comments, please contact either Gordon Brown, Ali Penman or email email@example.com
DRAFT LETTER FOR RESIDENTS
If you wish to write to your elected members about rural connectivity in Rannoch, below is draft text which you might want to use to copy and paste into your own document. We would suggest that you use sections which are most appropriate to your own circumstances and experiences and include more specific personal examples where possible.
John Swinnie firstname.lastname@example.org
Murdo Fraser email@example.com
Ian Campbell firstname.lastname@example.org
Mike Williamson email@example.com
Xander McDade firstname.lastname@example.org
As a resident of the Rannoch & Tummel Community Council area, I am writing to you to express my dissatisfaction at the speed of progress being made by the Scottish Government to secure superfast broadband connectivity in rural areas where download speeds can be as low as 0.1 to 1.0 Mbs.
As well as being a remote, rural location, SIMD data clearly indicates that Rannoch is an access deprived area and poor or no broadband connectivity further exacerbates this situation. Face to face services are being withdrawn by government and non-government organisations at a remarkable rate with access limited to service points in more urban areas or replaced with online services. To be able to undertake even basic tasks such as banking or personal administration, local residents need not only improved roads and transport connections but also far superior broadband connectivity to be able to retain a standard of living comparable to the rest of the UK.
[INSERT OTHER EXAMPLES OF ONLINE ACTIVITIES]
Advancement in online service delivery is not being reflected in the ability of residents to connect. An immediate example is children’s education which is becoming impaired with increasing educational expectations that they will have online accessibility at home to complete essential learning. Superfast broadband is an essential requirement for modern day living and no longer a luxury. It has become an essential utility and is more critical to support social connectivity in remote communities where other services have been withdrawn, than urban areas where all core services are on the doorstep. Lack of modern day connectivity is clearly encouraging outward migration from rural areas.
[OTHER BENEIFTS OF SUPERFAST BROADBAND INCLUDE:
improve the remote delivery of public services
enable new forms of remote working
enable remote education opportunities (for school pupils and FE/HE distance learning)
enable the delivery of e-health services
improve access to social networking
improve access to cultural information and entertainment]
I would ask you to use your best efforts to help us, in common with other communities in Highland Perthshire, to help us get a proper solution. We have received no progress following a commitment made by Nicola Sturgeon in a letter to the community in 2013 that Rannoch does not “get left behind” in this race for improved connectivity.
Broadband in Rannoch
COMMUNITY NEWSLETTER 17 March 2017
Broadband in Rannoch – What Next?
The Rannoch Community Trust would like to invite you to join them for an informal open meeting on Wednesday 5 April at 7.30pm in Kinloch Rannoch Village Hall to talk about Broadband.
Gordon Brown and Ali Penman will give a brief update on the current situation, some of the challenges we face as a community and then look at ways, by working together, that we might be able to move the project forward more positively.
As outlined in our previous communication, there is no good news at the moment however it is important that we develop a strategy for action to ensure that Rannoch is not left behind on any Community Broadband programmes.
If you have any questions in the meantime, please contact Gordon Brown, Ali Penman or email email@example.com.
COMMUNITY NEWSLETTER 10 MARCH 2017
Please find below an update on the work that Rannoch Community Trust has been doing on progressing the status of Broadband in the area. If you would like to discuss this further, please come along to Rannoch Community Trust's Coffee & Chat this Saturday, 11th March at Kinloch Rannoch Fire Station between 10 & 11.30.
Don't forget you can also get your car washed by the Fire Brigade between 9 & midday!
Following recent meetings between the Rannoch Community Trust and Community Broadband Scotland (CBS), they have confirmed to us that the Scottish Government is now preparing for the R100 programme which aims to ensure that all premises in Scotland have access to superfast broadband by 2021. At this initial stage of the R100 programme, information is being gathered to better understand how funding can be most effectively used and which areas will be best suited to any given technology. Our recent survey of the Rannoch community has identified strong demand for broadband throughout the area and CBS will forward this to the Scottish Government to help with their review.
Whilst the initial planning phase of R100 is being carried out, CBS has now confirmed that it has ring fenced almost all of the funding that we would have accessed to develop a community led broadband programme. They are currently supporting around 19 other community led projects which will shortly go through the procurement process to find companies to build networks in those communities. Should further funding become available, they will support us to develop a community led solution for the Rannoch community. This was disappointing news for Rannoch as it delays our ability to be able to progress this project as had been anticipated at the end of last year following our early stage work with CBS.
However in addition to our work with CBS, and until we have information as to the likely coverage of the R100 programme, there are a number of other options open to us which we are also investigating. These include a privately funded solution. We are having discussions with various potential suppliers to decide whether they are able to offer appropriate solutions for our area and how these solutions might be funded. Key to this would be obtaining funding for a full technical feasibility study on which we are awaiting further news.
You might be aware of the “better broadband” voucher scheme, whereby members of the community can apply for a £350 voucher which can be given to a supplier to provide a broadband connection. Most of these vouchers have been used to fund satellite connections so far, but they can also be used by suppliers of fixed wireless solutions. Satellite systems are seen as a short term solution as they are not a recognised technology by the Scottish Government and when the wireless systems are eventually installed households can move from the satellite system to the wireless system.
Link to online Broadband Survey CLICK HERE
LETTER SENT TO ALL LOCAL RESIDENTS AUGUST 2016
When the Rannoch & Tummel Community Fund Group asked local residents last year about what is missing from our community, reliable broadband connection was identified as a high priority across the area. Work has already been undertaken to look at potential options for the western end of the community and the Rannoch & Tummel Community Fund Group are following up on this by reviewing an area wide scheme with support from Community Broadband Scotland (CBS). This is part of our new community development plan.
Who are CBS?
Community Broadband Scotland (CBS) is a Scottish Government initiative delivered by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), which supports rural and remote communities like ours to gain access to superfast broadband where fibre broadband is not being rolled out.
CBS works with communities across Scotland, offering them specialist advice and expertise as well as capital funding so that community-led broadband solutions can flourish, narrowing the digital divide.
Rannoch & Tummel
Based on current advice from CBS, the majority of our area, apart from hubs around the villages of Kinloch Rannoch and Tummel Bridge, will not benefit from the main Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband (DSSB) programme, which is rolling out fibre broadband across Scotland. However, working together with CBS, we can look to find the best technical solution for our area to receive a better broadband service through an alternative method. See map provided by CBS below.
What we need you to do
In order for a community broadband project to proceed, we need to gather information from the local community to determine the level of interest in the proposed broadband scheme. We kindly ask you to fill out the broadband questionnaire about your current broadband service and your expectations from an improved broadband service. Any information you give will only be used in relation to the provision of broadband services in your area and will not be disclosed to third parties without your consent.
Please complete and return the attached questionnaire (LINK BELOW) by Friday September 16th. To enable us to secure ongoing support from public organisations like CBS and Perth & Kinross Council, it is important that we receive as many responses as possible regardless of whether or not you would want to sign up to any new community broadband scheme in the future.
If you have any questions about the questionnaire or the proposed community broadband project, please contact Gordon Brown on 01882 632733 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org (Gordon Brown) or email@example.com (Jane Dekker).
Thank you for your co-operation.
On behalf of Rannoch & Tummel Community Fund Group
RANNOCH & TUMMEL BROADBAND MAP
Area circled area in green is planned to be covered by BT upgrade. Area circled in red is not included in the planned BT upgrade. Map and information provided by Community Broadband Scotland.