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

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

A new Broadband provider

I have been given details of a new broadband provider for the Western Isles; a story that is due to be announced in detail in the next month.

Luathnet are planning to provide a full service via the normal telephone lines and by satellite - but not through the Connected Communities network - as part of the Local Loop Unbundling.

Full details of the plans (and the prices) will be announced in February, but it looks like we are getting another local challenge to the service provision. Hopefully they can cover most of the islands from day 1; or at least the majority of residents.

I'm hopeful that this will provide the competition that is desperately needed to drive forward the internet community and intent usage in the islands, and I for one will be studying the offer very carefully to see how it could benefit my business and my domestic provision.

More to follow.


Anonymous said...

heres hoping they can make a differnce and be competitive and good luck to them in their venture.

I have some doubts however regarding what they can do to extend and or improve the status quo. Satellite is a very expensive option but will be the only alternative to those Bt exchanges which have not been provisioned other than the much maligned connected communities.
Satellite connections and connected communities had their chance 8 - 10 years ago when BT broadband rollout was very much prioritised to the heavily populated regions of the country.
Satellite was priced out of range to the householder and connected communities arrived much to late for an islands wide take up. I feel for those whose exchanges have not been provisioned and hope that this new company can apply enough pressure to get more exchanges enabled but ifear the cost to them will be prohibitive.

Hope i'm wrong and good luck again.

Anonymous said...

About time were giving some competition. They have had the monopoly for too long now & nothign people were able to do about it, left hope this companies prices are going to be competitive and more reliable then is. Like they say competition is health.

Anonymous said...

The reason our 21 exchanges were not enabled is that BT were persuaded to withdraw them from the upgrade that SE subsidised (378 exchanges for £16.5m--done in 2005 to budget & timelines and enabling far more than envisaged).
Instead HIE/CNES/WIHB set up Concom,(having got BT to withdraw)using £12m+ of taxpayers money and failed dismally to meet their own objectives.They actually complained bitterly when BT upgraded without subsidy exchanges such as Stornoway,Lochboisdale &Castlebay-rather spoiled their plans for a monopoly & worse still enabled islanders who enjoyed exchange based broadband to compare their deal with Concom!!
The only objective is keeping development staff in well paid jobs,hiring consultants,and writing loads of total p**h for dumb councillors.
Latest moan from Concom,the BT maintained microlink to mainland is down so no service.
Had BT upgraded the 21 exchanges,BT would be responsible for all Island to Mainland links,no Concom needed,and no payment from concom to BT& to Hydro for powering remote sites.
Simply upgrading our 21exchanges will make masts obsolete overnite,just subsidise BT not the crazed dreams of an ex-employee of theirs.

Anonymous said...

Hopefully this competition will finally kill off the ConCom white elephant. As ConCom charge more to HebNet wholesale than other ISP's charge retail, they simply cannot compete price wise, unless of course they get further subsidy from CnES/HIE/WIHB...

Anonymous said...


Yes, nice idea, but that assumes that the Luathwhatsit can succeed (without public funding?) where ConCom has failed. More likely, they will scoop up some funding too, provide an indifferent service, do the easy ones first, allow ConCom and its funders off the hook in a sense, remove any chance of ConCom finding its feet (unlikely and they don't deserve to, I know, but if HIE etc continue to stick by their mistakes, and Concom continues to exist, we do, surely, want it to stop being such drain) and potentially leave us with a not-much-improved service. Really, I can't see how, with an expensive infrastructure required in such a small area, competition is really the issue here.

I hope I'm wrong, but we'll have to wait and see.

We just need BT to upgrade all the exchanges and continually improve the service so we can be no more than 20 steps behind the rest of Europe. I'm no fan of BT in general but I can't see how two Concoms, are going to do it any better.

Btw it's disgraceful that when the Hebnet service went off at noon on Friday, there was nothing but an engaged signal on their helpline, for all of Friday afternoon. May have been a notice on their website but when you can't get online...

MadEddieH said...

Here we go with the old HIE stopped BT doing up my exchange rubbish again...closely linked with the hoary old chestnut that and upgraded exchange solves all the broadband issues overnight.

Anonymous said...

Well I certainly will give them a try providing they can be competitively priced I would welcome the opportunity to support a local company that will employ local people , where is the sense in giving business to people hundreds of miles away with offshore call centres etc ?lets support them : are there really that many alternatives?

Anonymous said...

When Connected Communities was launched in 2005 with £5.2m for 21 Western Isles exchange areas backed by HIE,CNES & WIHB-----BT were persuaded to withdraw these same 21 exchanges from the upgrading "assistance" of £16.5m granted for the other 378 exchanges from SE.

HIE is the lead partner in the Connected Communities venture,I presume they talk to SE.

Had Connected Communities not been launched we can presume our 21 exchanges would have been included in the 2005 SE initiative for an additional £900k.

The SE initiative exceeded its targets by a huge margin and was completed in 2005.

Connected Communities will never meet its targets,but has ensured that we cannot access broadband here.

MadEddieH said...

Re Anonymous Coward @ 8.05am

Yawn. Heard this same urban myth before, over and over and over.

The simple fact of the matter is that even people who are on ADSL enabled exchanges sometimes don't have access to broadband. I'm on one and the highest speed my line will support is 512K downstream. I can however get ConnComm/HebNet at whatever speed I'm willing to pay for.

The simple physics of ADSL means that the further you get from the exchange the poorer your ADSL experience is going to be.

This should apparently change with BT's next generation stuff - 21CN. All the island exchanges are scheduled to get done in 2011 I believe. Now I fully support pushing BT, local, scottish and national government to bring those dates forward, what I don't see the point of is pushing for them to fit obsolete technology into an exchange that is getting new stuff within the next year or so - they just won't do it.

As for the whole HIE BT exchange conspiracy - just file it with your UFO sightings.

Anonymous said...

MadEddieH how far are you from your exchange?

Anonymous said...

Conspiracy theories aside, there is only one real reason why BT haven't upgraded more exchanges - it's simple economics!
The return on investment period to enable an exchange which covers a few hundred houses would be enormous - even at the huge profit margins BT make.
Whether ConCom did or didn't impact on which exchanges were targetted for subsidy in 2005 is irrelevant now. Turkeys don't vote for Christmas, and HIE won't pledge financial assistance to any venture which poses a threat to ConCom. Equally, BT will not enable these exchanges at their own cost - why would they choose to lose money?
If there is a new company who are willing to come in and try to help the situation, then surely that can only be a good thing, can't it?
I'm pretty sure that I heard they weren't using ConCom, so where is the problem? Even if they were using ConCom, competition on the network could only be positive as well.

I'll certainly listen to what they have to say. Unless they are given a fair chance, no-one can expect them to change anything for the better - irrespective of what they do or how they do it.

Shawbost Sam said...

Well good luck to them, they need it!!!!

Anonymous said...

I've heard that they will offer a set charge per month for broadband and telephone calls. Anyone have any idea what that charge is?- I pay anywhere between £40 - £50 a month once my BT telephone bill is added to my broadband. If they can save me money, they'll get my business

MadEddieH said...

As the crow flies I'm probably a mile from the exchange. Unfortunately this equates to a totally different length of line. It also isn't help by the fact that the telephone line winds across ditches and the like enroute.

If BT replaced the couple of miles of slighlty corroded copper wire between me and the exchange then I'm sure I could get pretty good speeds, but economically there is absolutely no case for upgrading the line. The line is good enough for voice, indeed when the voice service started failing a while back they replaced a chunk of the line, but not all of it.

This situation will be similar for many across the islands, and is why I have very little patience for the whole ADSL solves everything line of rhetoric.

So I for one have the ability to use either ADSL or ConnCom and I choose to use ConnCom because it is better than ADSL for me.

Anonymous said...

"I for one have the ability to use either ADSL or ConnCom and I choose to use ConnCom" - MadEddieH at least you have an option.

Many of us have been forced into an expensive ConCom monopoly so that CnES/WIHB can get a cheap service (well apart for having to deficit-fund the ConCom white elephant)

Given a choice, most people in the 21 exchange areas would jump servers but that can't be allowed to happen because we're needed as captive customers to try and keep this initiative going.

By the way BT have no intention of rolling out 21CN in the Western Isles until 2014/15, so basically we have 4/5 years of enduring ConCom unless Luathnet can provide a decent service.

If they do, ConCom's customer base vanishes as soon as the contracts expire. Unless of course the funding bodies deficit-fund it further to try and provide competitive prices. Remember ConCom charge more to HebNet wholesale than other ISP's charge retail, so without further subsidy (or a substantial increase in customers) they can't lower their price.

If anyone from Luathnet is reading this, I would like to point out that there are a lot of potential broadband users who are refusing to use and support ConCom because it is an expensive monopoly service forced upon us. About a fifth of potential broadband users where I live use ConCom, the rest are still on dial-up waiting for a decent service...

ben ben said...

Absolutely right about BT and 21CN (or is it be 22CN) and thats still not certain in the current economic climate.
Eddie is right about the line quality , thats a given and everyone who provides a broadband service via the BT line will encounter the same problem.
The satellite option really appeals to me as the speeds i understand are pretty good and there is no reliance on the microwave link across the Minch.
Does anyone know anything about the costs on satellite i only heard 3rd or 4th hand?

Anonymous said...

I read they said they were not looking to use Concom. why?

Anonymous said...

9:42 PM

because the wireless infrastructure is;

expensive to maintain and rent (ConCom charge more to HebNet wholesale than other ISP's charge retail)

prone to breakdown especially in adverse weather conditions (or even the tide being in!)and can't give coverage - as acknowledged in the recent HIE report to CnES and WIHB

Anonymous said...

Re: Anonymous 9.42

Why are the wholesale charges to Hebnet so high then if this is a public funded network for the benefit of the population?

Anonymous said...

Because this public funded venture is run by HIE/CNES/WIHB whose officers cannot run a bath let alone a broadband venture,they should never have been allowed to set up the scheme dreamed up by consultants who have coined it in advising these nitwits that run Connected Communities

Anonymous said...

Can someone clarify this for me as I see it we are being overcharged by a state funded organisation, with a service provided via a monopoly service provider which continues to cost the taxpayer money ... Where is the sense in this ?
i just dont get it.......

Anonymous said...

Precisely,in fact that description fits UK telephone provider when it was the Post Office,but privatised it became BT with its ingrained faults caused by being a monopoly/public sector .

Our development staff have merely replicated the model in Connected Communities

Anonymous said...

The nitwits that run Connected Communities are well sorted thank you earning dosh for doing SFA like the nom de plume nitwit hiding behind his post edd!e---PR spokesman for CC

Anonymous said...

I must be missing something, why would anyone set up a new broadband supplier up here?

MadEddieH said...

To the various Anonymous Cowards implying that I'm paid by HIE/ConnComm/HebNet whoever - I ain't. This ground has already been gone over.

I work in IT and have done for over 20 years and I currently work for a private firm that, to the best of my knowledge as an employee, has nothing to do with ConnComm/HIE/Council etc.

As to ConnComm being a monopoly, well they are a monopoly in exactly the same way that BT are a monopoly i.e. they control the majority of the infrastructure and charge for access to it.

The new provider could quite happily pay for access to the ConnComm network the way that they will pay for access to the BT network or the satellite network.

Do I think Conncomm should bring their prices down, Yes I do - a position that I've taken pretty consistently as anyone can read. Equally I think BT could do with bringing their prices down as well.

ConnComm's network has in my experience proved to be more robust than ADSL and the power for that matter.

Now, as I've already said I think we should push for a faster rollout of 21CN than BT are currently committing to. That to me would be a worthwhile effort, as opposed to endless whining about urban myth regarding conspiracies and the like.

Callum Mcanulty said...


Interesting comments from Eddie this evening indeed, yes I agree with the BT 21CN initiative but we have to be pragmatic here, lets look at BT s current situation , if I were Ian Livingston going through my inbox, Pension fund hole ( billions), 21CN costs (billions), Global Services massive losses( millions), deliver shareholder value, and hmmmm whats this in my to do box? upgrade broadband in Western Isles.. it aint gonna happens soon guys !!!
We just are not at the top of his priority list are we? So getting back to the original point ie new supplier in western isles, maybe just maybe this may work and could be the key to driving this forward perhaps its the NEW THIRD WAY....

Anonymous said...

This may sound a daft question but why doesnt the central govt fund the upgrade and remove the subsidy to Con Com surely it is far more sensible, cost effective and beneficial all round rather than being left with a loss making money draining sub standard network. Makes total sense to me , could someone shed some light on this to me ?

Anonymous said...

I personally dont see why anyone in their right mind would want to set up in the Western Isles to provide communication services its madness.

Anonymous said...

10:58 PM

If these exchanges were upgraded, people would then have a choice, and when there is a choice, it isn't ConCom.

Without this captive customer base, which breaches Competition Law, the ConCom white elephant would collapse, and that would mean the authorities having to admit they f*cked up, and we can't have that, can we?

Anonymous said...

Same old same old
Lets be clear Con Com actually provide a decent infrastructure overall, yes there may be problems but its still pretty good, so lets get the best out of what we have, maybe if Heb net had some competition on Con com we may see more improvements , particularly with the customer service !! and the accounts dept!!!

MadEddieH said...

Anonymous Coward @ 7.29,

The exchanges aren't going to get upgraded till the 21CN rollout - accept that fact and you might get somewhere.

Also - I'm on an exchange that was enabled and what choice do I have - 512Kb MAXIMUM via ADSL or whatever bandwidth I'm willing to pay for via ConnComm - so it isn't really any competition ConnComm wins - and will do for the vast majority of users on most of the exchanges you keep whining about.

Anonymous said...

The comment at 4.37 from the anonymous frontman for Connected Communities defies logic,just like Connected Communities (what a misnomer).It is perfectly possible to get a service from Connected Communities that can be reasonably reliable,but the service for many of their captive customers is very poor indeed.
Connected Communities hate to be reminded that their intervention to provide broadband here was supported by grant aid which then precluded any aid for BT exchanges in our area,a situation that still exists.
On Barra BT upgraded Castlebay exchange but were faced with obsolete copper lines down the west side,so without any subsidy new lines were laid and now ADSL gives a steady reliable signal up to 11kms away.
In Northbay the lines were so bad that BT had to upgrade and fibre-optic lines replaced the copper there in the 90's.An exchange upgrade for Northbay would enable all subscribers as no-one is further than 7.8 KM from the exchange.
There is a deafening silence from CNES on Connected Communities at present but last year they were to decide what to do ! HIE were keen to offload their bold venture in telecoms to them but to their credit CNES were less than keen but where did Luachnet come from,already delayed to February (son of Concom??---delays,broken promises,deadlines missed )Of course I am too cynical but to upgrade 21 BT exchanges would take £900k in subsidy then Connected Communities are sunk

MadEddieH said...

Anonymous Coward@10:23

I've repeatedly made it clear that I've got nothing to do with ConnComm other than being a user of their service.

However given the rest of the myths that your post consisted of I'm not too surprised that you felt the need to steer clear of the truth.

Callum said...


Well said Eddie, I have no idea where this guy gets his ill informed information from.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone seen their pricing yet?

Anonymous said...

i ve heard they are offering a Gaelic service but does anyone really care?

Anonymous said...

I see their website is up

Anonymous said...

I know a woman and she has been asked to be a trial customer for them on satellite and they have offered her a very good rate.

anyone elase been asked?
or does anyone know where we can contact them?

Anonymous said...

To all those Connected Communities captive customers--you are not alone --to find fellow sufferers google wimax sucks

Anonymous said...

i think it is rather disappointing to read all the negative comments on here regarding Con Com I happen to think that it provides a robust service given the difficulties in providing any service in this part of the world. Lets work with them rather than against them whats the point in chasing rainbows. Work with what we have ....

Anonymous said...

Their website is useless,no detail at all !!!

The speed of this offering,promising much delivering SFA looks very public sector.

Anonymous said...

Son of ??????

bodhrigagh said...

Anon 10.02am
Interesting comments
Firstly you dont even say who you are and come up with some bizarre comments , do they have any foundation?

What do you expect from their website?

What have they promised?
What do you mean "speed of this offering?"
Have you spoken to them?

Anonymous said...

Luathnet aren’t like other telecommunications providers…..

It’s easy to talk about great Customer Service, but actually providing it? That’s another thing entirely.

Anonymous said...

The website IS useless but it's just holding the place - I wonder what the point of having a multi-page place holder is, and probably it is a marketing mistake to churn out so much holding guff and with a silly design concept, but it's pointless to judge a company on its holding page (judge their marketing decision-maker though, yes.)

That said I am a sceptic (mentioned it above somewhere) and I believe they are late, aren't they? Which is not a good sign.

Come on then boys - let's see what you've got.

Anonymous said...

11.35 here. My mistake - pricing and plans to be announced in Feb, so they're not late yet.

Anonymous said...

Looks like some of you guys have judged them

Can we really expect much different ?

After all they still have to utilise existing networks dont they so the prices wont be that different

Anonymous said...

They are going to hold several open forums across the hebrides to get customer views

Anonymous said...

Well guys I contacted them today ,spoke to a woman initially and they were excellent, informative and very helpful.

Anonymous said...

Plenty Trolls on this,spoke to a woman How Exciting !! and she was really helpful ???? Indeed WTF did she say !? What help do you need?

Silence over HIE's attempt to pass Connected Communities onto CNES then we have,or do we?

" 572 8442
To get in touch, please complete the details below and we will respond as quick as we can."

Well most launches have detail on their website,cant think of any that do not really,otherwise why bother.

From the Anonymous troll @ 516 typical CNES/HIE Connected Communities claptrap----Why do you think we need open forums? to keep you in expenses?Give you something to do?

Just upgrade the BT exchanges with a fraction of the public money to assist BT that you will spend on consultants.

Why set up a Company/Website then set up public forums to find out what???

Avanti was setup by Scottish Executive for satellite broadband,again Western Isles were excluded. was set up to handle Connected Communities by HIE as no reputable ISP would handle such a bizarre & cumbersome system.

Anyway trolls we will find out what you are up to in due course,I expect will not publish aims,targets or timelines as someone may hold you to it.

Oh to have a public sector job!

Anonymous said...

Re: 5.35am

Several inaccurate statements in your comments.

How many times does it need said BT exchanges are not going to be upgraded in the near future!!!!!

The opportunity has been missed!!!

Armil@satellite providers in my area said...

So glad to know that
Luathnet are planning to provide a full service via the normal telephone lines and by satellite - but not through the Connected Communities network - as part of the Local Loop Unbundling.

Richard Gate said...

I have been trying to find out what Broadband services are available in the Western Isles as I'm looking into moving to the area. However, this has been a very frustrating task. So I have created the web site to try and gather together whatever information and experiences of service providers that comes my way. Anyone is welcome to provide and use the information on this site. Thanks, Richard.

Paula Livingstone said...

Just read your article. Not sure if the issues are still relevant however we have just launced a Scotland centric satellite Broadband service at Apogee Internet. Looking at some of the comments here I think many will be pleasantly surprised.

kindest regards,