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

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Broadband in Barra

I received the following in my email, which I have copied in full, removing only the offensive title!

The Connected Communities Initiative is in the Scotsman. Go to this link and let them know what you think of the ConCom experience and tell others to do likewise!

Mutiny on the Broadband

Earth tremors were felt across Barra last week, as Northbay residents jaws dropped in anger and disbelief at discovering HIE’s decision not to pursue the procurement process to upgrade the phone exchange. Many people had to read the letter twice as HIE proposed the best solution for providing broadband to us was to accept the Connected Communities Initiative because we’d get that service sooner than the exchange upgrade we all requested.

The fact that we presented them with a petition signed by over 90% of the households stating our willingness to wait for the procurement process to occur doesn’t seem to have registered with them. I will reiterate that fact again, we would all rather wait a bit longer and get the broadband service we want than have the one we don’t want forced upon us sooner. HIE’s sudden desire to give us an Internet service quickly now is at odds with their previous stance because at the public meeting they admitted that we would have ADSL broadband now if they had listened to our initial requests last year.

There is no valid argument against upgrading the phone exchange, there is though an unwillingness to listen to us and accept that Connected Communities is unsuited and unwanted here. It is unbelievably arrogant of HIE to ask our co-operation to help them provide a service we don’t want when they are totally unwilling to co-operate with us to provide the service we do. I would also like to ask how they could determine that the best solution for providing broadband to us was a wireless service, when they never considered the ADSL option and didn’t survey Barra until three years after the initiative began? The invasion of Iraq had better planning.

I would also like to query HIE’s optimistic timescale to provide this service nobody wants by late summer 2008. In 2003 Connected Communities predicted that “significant swathes” of Lewis and Harris would be connected by December that year but as late as last summer people in Harris were “growing impatient” with the lack of coverage there. An HIE document from 28/11/07 recognised “challenges emerging in securing electricity supplies…likely to delay final commissioning of majority of completed masts into 2008/09”….and apparently there isn’t sufficient power to the mast in Bruernish at the moment to supply Connected Communities…. Also how long would the households in blind spots here have to wait before a service was provided for them? They would get a quicker service by going through the procurement process. I would also like to remind HIE of their review in 2004 that aspired to provide “100% coverage” because they seem to have forgotten this.

I would also like to disagree with HIE’s assertion that there is no significant difference between Connected Communities prices and what is available through ADSL. Maybe someone on an HIE wage may not think this difference is “significant” but the people here do and we are not willing to pay extra for a service we don’t actually want. We already pay more for fuel and food etc. due to our location, and we are not willing to pay more for broadband due to HIE’s intransigence. Also I cannot see how Connected Communities can possibly change its price structure to become more competitive as their wholesale prices to Hebrides.Net are more expensive than the retail prices of many ISP’s. More subsidies anyone?

I’d also like to dispute HIE’s conclusion that there is no discernable difference between the performance of wireless and ADSL broadband because I’ve never heard a complaint from a landline user here because of the wind, the rain, or the tide being in. Hebrides.Net must be the only ISP in the world that gives a tide timetable with its router.

I’d also like to dispel the notion that only “some” Northbay residents would be disappointed by this decision because consistently over 90% of the residents here have been campaigning for the exchange to be upgraded. And we are not “disappointed” Mr Cumming, we are furious. I don’t think you could get a better example of public opinion than on this issue. We have sent upwards of 1,000 letters now and had a unanimous vote at the public meeting with HIE but yet nobody is listening to us. It seems to me that our opinion only counts once every four or five years when someone wants us to put an “X” by their name. Please remember this issue next election time. It does not say much for the democratic process when a whole community is being ignored and dictated to by a quango of unelected suits more concerned with protecting the reputation of their project than giving us the best service available. We are not accepting an inferior service to save anyone’s blushes. Your move HIE, because we aren’t budging.


Anonymous said...

Well no point in asking our Barra MP to help as he has announced he is to help the Tory David Davis in his bi-election campaign. Well there we have it the proper Tartan Tory showing his true colours.

There we go fighting for a Tory in Yorkshire and doing nothing for his own Island. Shame on him.

Anonymous said...

I believe that a switch could have been flicked in the Barvas exchange to allow other broadband services down the west and North of Lewis.

However HIE stopepd that happening so that they maintained the monoploy.

These quangos are unreal. I thought they were supposed to help the people, not hinder them.

Anonymous said...

Anon 4:28, stop talking bollocks and stick to the subject of the original post, if you actually have anything useful to say.

Anonymous said...

Anon 4:28
Will we notice the difference by his absence. I think not!!

Anonymous said...

Anon 4:28,said
stop talking bollocks and stick to the subject of the original post, if you actually have anything useful to say.

So who was talking bollocks now. The truth seems to hurt.

Anonymous said...

From the Sternerway Gazelle


who are all these tourist that force me off the road from October to April then?

A LEADING island councillor has slammed tourists who neglect to use passing places to allow cars behind them to overtake.
Cllr. Archie Campbell was speaking at Wednesday's meeting of the Comhairle's Transportation Committee, when he suggested that an announcement on Caledonian Macbrayne ferries arriving in the Western Isles would be of help.

He said that the tannoy announcement which informed passengers that they were nearing the islands could also be used to inform tourists of the role that passing places on single track roads played.

He was doubtful that tourists knew what the passing places were for.

Perhaps our dear Councillor whould like more signs like "Give way to locals"

Is it no wonder that attitudes like his and the threat of wind turbines is scaring off tourists etc.

Anonymous said...

actually, if you are going to have a sign like that it shd. read give way to locals WITH JOBS and flash on and off between 8-9am and 3-5pm.

oh and one for later on at night saying "abandon hope all ye who enter here"

Anonymous said...

13 million pounds of taxpayers money wasted. Several years of lies.

Try and complain. What happens? You get threatened. If you already have broadband, cut off. Then there is censorship by Comhairle staff "holding the line":,5,19

Complain to any Comhairle or HIE representative on Harris? Forget it.

And that is the heart of it. There are people who have done very well over the years out of this carry-on. And more in the Comhairle and HIE who know it's a huge white elephant. But to admit would reveal their incompetence, force the scandal that's been brewing for years, result in people having to resign. Remember; after clawback, more money has been wasted by ConCom than was lost in the BCCI carry-on.

And so the word goes out. Comhairle and HIE staff must use ConCom, and they must always say how wonderful it is.

Here we are. It is 2008, and here on Harris there are still places where broadband is "problematic" or "coming soon".

Aye, right. How long has it been coming? And after five years of lies from HIE and the Comhairle, why should anyone believe any more promises or dates?

Ten questions:

1. How many millions of pounds have the mainland Atkins Consultants made out of this carry-on? How much do they charge for every call-out from the mainland? If they are experts, why did they manage to prepare a sight for a relay mast on the WRONG HILL in Harris?

2. Who, and when, did people in the Comhairle and HIE know that the technology was unsuitable? Trials BT undertook years ago proved this so. Some of the dishes now used by ConCom are second-hand ones from that same failed trial!

3. How many promises have been made and broken? We have endured repeatedly broken promises going back to 2003. How many councillors understand what is going on?

4. Why have 25 year leases been signed for some of the relay masts? How much are local taxpayers being stung for this carry-on?

5. How many telephone exchanges in Lewis, Harris and the Uists are already enabled for broadband, but lie unused for this purpose? It is widely known in the local telephone engineering community that there are several.

6. It would have cost, at the most, 1.1 million pounds to convert all remaining phone exchanges. That figure is from a middle manager of BT. Why does HIE persist in stating that ConCom is and was the most effective option?

7. How many ex-customers of ConCom have been barred for complaining about the unreliability of the service? Why was one old lady in Leverburgh reduced to tears by the bullying and intimidation of their phone staff, who wrongly insisted she had not paid her bill and threatened all manner of sanctions?

8. How many businesses have relocated to the mainland because of the lack of a promised broadband service? How many were young people and families, depleting our falling school rolls and communities of much-needed children? Have you seen our school rolls in Harris? Does the Comhairle or HIE truly care? Should broadband roll-out for everyone have been a top priority?

9. What are the legal and technical impediments to BT converting the remaining telephone exchanges? Why have these never been made public?

10. Why do the Comhairle, HIE and ConCom assume that residents will somehow forget the long list of broken promises, and just remember the current promise? Which will be broken again, and again and..

And 11. When will I get reliable broadband, so I do not have to frequently drive to Stornoway to carry out much of my business?

Anonymous said...


One of the best posts I have seen on this blog.

Bet you feel better for getting it off your chest but will anyone take any notice?

Anonymous said...

ConCom is unsustainable. Ask anyone at the Health Board who knows what they are talking about. I guess that narrows down your options, but if you meet a ConCom fanboy, just ask about the finance.