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The truths they don't want you to read....

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

How not to build an economy

I'm sitting in a hotel in Uist using their wireless connection to try to do some work, and the signal is dropping every few seconds.

Absolutely normal, a local tells me.

How can anyone run a business that relies on a technology that simply is not up to the job?

I've got connectivity via my phone, but that doesn't help if the data I need is on my server?

Network down again, after 60 seconds of being up......aaargh!

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

Angus. If you are in the DI try the hall opposite reception. You can never get wifi at the bar and the rooms are just as bad.

Anonymous said...

Welcome to the total and very expensive political cock up that is broadband in the Western Isles.

Oh, if you believe some its the best thing since sliced bread!

Anonymous said...

Try running a business from home, relying on ConCom broadband, when you have to plan online conferencing and the downloading of media by consulting the tide timetable...

Anonymous said...

Wecome to our world

Anonymous said...

Anyone got any info on the Comhairle position re holiday for the forthcoming Royal Wedding? Day off, week off or the sensible way -it is just another wedding

Anonymous said...

This is typical of the wifi installations I too have experienced in the isles.

All too often the 'wifi available' just means that the hotel manager has plugged a domestic-grade router into the line, programmed a wireless password and left all the other configuration tweaks and optimisations at their default values.

When more coverage is required in hotels etc, extra home-style routers are just plugged into the back of the first one. Sometimes the coverage of multiple wifi units conflict with, rather than complement each other.

Oh, and into that happy mix chuck the local mains reliability. BT Openreach, bless them, have "DLM", a class piece of software sitting on everyone's phone line. A rather pernicious function of this is to detect more than one broadband disconnection within a 24 hour window.

When the second loss of sync happens, DLM demotes the line throughput to only a few percent of what it's actually capable of, slowing downloads to a crawl. It takes two weeks for the line fully to recover from this and full throughput speed to be restored.

And guess what? SSE at Loch Carnan regularly take us off grid onto local supply at peak times, then put us back on when the mainland demand spike has passed. Voila, two closely spaced mains interruptions. I've had shell out nearly 200 quid on an Uninterruptable Power Supply for my 15 quid router, in order to get any performance and reliability from my broadband.

Sympathies to the ConCom customers - a good system in theory, variably implemented in practice it seems.

Anonymous said...

The joys of heb.net broadband, they used to say it was way ahead of the BT broadband system & all ISP's would be using the same advanced(advanced my arsh) system within a few years. Lets hope they dont or the whole of the WI will suffer.

Heb.net have stopped taking orders for new customers as they are at full capacity. If all the extra money that was put into broadband for the western Isles is thrown into heb.net which unfortunately it looks like its going to be the places like Barvas, Carloway & Tolsta, Uig, Bernera, Harris & Uist will be no better off, maybe even worse off.

It cost way more to provide broadband for the 21 exchange areas in WI than it cost to install broadband in 378 other exchanges in Scotland. A waste of Government & local money yet again, lets hope they pull the plug on it ASAP so BT are allowed to install broadband in these areas.

Angus said...

Look guys, I am empathising with you big style. I just realise how grateful I am for a (fairly) stable BT connection that allows me to run a connected business.

As we look to expand, it cannot be in Uist for very good tech reasons. How many others feel the same?

And much more importantly, when is something going to be done about it?

Anonymous said...

10:48
Not sure about the Comhairle but schools were already due to be shut because of the May bank holiday weekend so they have "awarded" themselves another day in lieu of it and extended the Easter holidays by one extra day!!!

Anonymous said...

If I sort out ConCom can I have an OBE?

Tony Giles said...

You said that you're grateful for a fairly stable BT connection - why should you be grateful for something that isn't as stable as it should be? From what I've seen and heard BT ADSL performance/reliability on the island is abysmal compared to what you get in the mainland and there's no good reason for that.

The lack of broadband connectivity for the outlying areas isn't just going to prevent expansion into these areas - it's going to affect existing businesses - you try filling out an on-line tax return with a flaky connection, and the time is coming when you will have to do everything online.

The sad thing is, it shouldn't be that difficult to implement a working system even given the topology of the islands. From what I've heard the current system is one all mighty cock-up.

Anonymous said...

"...you try filling out an on-line tax return with a flaky connection, and the time is coming when you will have to do everything online."

This prospect is perhaps even more scary than the state of broadband here in Uist.

With apologies to the non-Uibhisteach, I've just done a walk around the islands on Samknows. You're OK for BTw broadband in Castlebay, Lochboisdale, Benbecula and Sollas, but if you're connected to Northbay, Eriskay, Bornish, Grogarry, Carnan, Locheport, Bayhead, Berneray or, most surprisingly, Lochmaddy, then you are out of luck.

Given the disappointment of ConCom in serving those non-BTw areas, would there be a market for consumer-grade satellite broadband on offer from the likes of Avanti and Eutelsat from Q2 2011? 8 Mb/s down / 2 Mb/s up and word is that it'll be priced competitively with BT's line-based broadband. You have to go via one of their "installation partners" tho.

Anonymous said...

8Mb down and 2Mb up is barely adequate for many businesses nowadays. And an increasing number of households.

Anonymous said...

@12.23

The OBE wasn't for ConCom and was given before the fiasco that it is was revealed.

However if you can sort it out, and if you want an outmoded, pointless lump of metal from an outmoded, pointless lump of halfwitted, privileged scammers, then sure, you can have one.

Anonymous said...

OBE stands for Other Bugg3rs efforts & is definitely the case for the person you relate too!

Anonymous said...

"...8Mb down and 2Mb up is barely adequate for many businesses nowadays. And an increasing number of households..."

Point taken about the business sector, where even the 16 Mb/s down / 2 Mb/s up loveliness of unbundled ADSL2+, that the mainland softies enjoy, starts to look a bit anaemic when there are more than 10 folk in an office. Not sure about a true 8/2 being inadequate for a domestic setting.

In any case, I was more meaning the John Anguses of this world, out here in the Uists with maybe half a megabit trickling out of the end of a 5 km line. And that's if they're lucky enough to be connected to Castlebay/Lochboisdale/Benbecula/Sollas.

Tony Giles said...

Not sure about a true 8/2 being inadequate for a domestic setting.

Streaming HD at a reasonable quality is about 10Mbps - so will saturate a 8Mbps link.

Streaming SD takes 2-3Mbps so two people watching TV would kill a 8Mbps link.

@6:20PM: I've setup satellite based systems in the past and they are the dogs testicles. Useless for VOIP though due to latency issues.

It'd most probably be cheaper for the community to upgrade the exchanges themselves to support ADSL2 (i.e. ignoring BT) and running broadband as a community project.

Anonymous said...

Oops, sorry, wasn't monitoring this thread for a couple of days

"...streaming HD at a reasonable quality is about 10Mbps - so will saturate a 8Mbps link. Streaming SD takes 2-3Mbps so two people watching TV would kill a 8Mbps link..."

Very true. But the likes of iPlayer and 4oD top out at about 800 kb/s these days, I presume for some kind of mp4 encapsulated stream. Don't know about HD, as I've nothing fast enough here to stream it, but I should imagine that you can do much better than 10 Mb/s with mp4.

Anyway the original article was about the frustrations of an iffy line for getting any work done. If you wanted to stream, then I daresay you could bond two or three 8/2 lines together, plus or minus any handshaking issues over a long delay satellite link. Just a matter of optimisation I expect, especially as everything will be in the UDP domain.

Any serious implementation would have a content server locally here in the Uists, like BT and Virgin have for iPlayer, 4oD etc etc.

"...It'd most probably be cheaper for the community to upgrade the exchanges themselves...as a community project..."

What a fascinating idea. Certainly here in the south the Storas could get behind that one I'm sure.

However, would using BTw for upstream bandwidth, i.e. on and off the island, just allow them to block any 'last mile' upgrade initiative at the transmission stage? Quite apart from all ConCom's other reported problems, this is what BTw seem to be doing to them? Just a thought.

Barrach said...

Angus?
Expanding?
Castlebay has broadband!! (not ConCom)