Antagonism Mounting to Wireless Service on the Western Isles

Antagonism Mounting to Wireless Service on the Western Isles

February 14, 2016

The Hebrides.net service has taken a long time to roll-out across the Western Isles and it remains unfinished. It also appears the roll-out to the region of Barra is receiving complaints from residents according to the BBC.

Residents of the Western Isles will be viewing identical television adverts as everyone else, which trumpet broadband deals for under £10 a month, whereas they are facing a £19.99 charge a month for a 0.5Mbps connection with 5GB allowance, and each additional GigaByte they require on top of this will cost £10. A 2Mbps symmetric connection with a 20GB allowance costs £79.99.

As a consequence it is not unexpected that residents are complaining and believe that a BT ADSL based service would be less expensive for them.

The difficulty with rolling out an ADSL solution would be those living remotely from the exchange may receive intermittent or no service. The Western Isles has 35 telephone exchanges of which some 14 provide a BT Wholesale Max ADSL service, the number may possibly increase once the 21CN network upgrades take place, which may perhaps be four years away.

The existing wireless broadband coverage is set to cost £7.6m over its three stages and was launched as a pilot project in 2002. The development of the roll-out can be followed on hebrides.net.

Potential the complaints about the expense and types of service accessible in the Western Isles is possibly something that re-emerges as elements of the mainland UK see faster broadband products materializing. The demands for some type of Broadband Universal Service Obligation (USO) will almost certainly increase on BT, however awareness that the domination of BT is not widespread across the UK and any legislation should take this into account.

Tim Yeo

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