An open letter from James Machpherson, SCD lead director for broadband project :
Dear Community Members
As you may well know on 16th November 2016 the Moy residents voted unanimously in favour for BT Openreach’ s proposal to install 3 new cabinets within the Moy area, promising speeds of up 80mbps once installed. This solution is to be funded through around £85K Moy Windfarm Community Benefit funds, the Better Broadband Vouchers of up to £350 being claimed by all Moy households and BT’s own investment.
Strathdearn Community Developments, the facilitator in the process, has the challenging ambition of helping to bring superfast broadband to the whole of Strathdearn! This will be a very difficult and challenging task which must be completed in a number of stages.
The Moy upgrade was effectively seen as stage 1 of our strategy for improving broadband within Strathdearn, with following stages addressing the Glenmazeran Exchange, Coignafearn, Clune and Balvraid and so on until we have managed to achieve superfast broadband throughout the entire community!
The next stage in our plans will be to improve the broadband speeds for properties up to and surrounding the Glenmazeran exchange.
In the latter stages of 2016 we proposed to Robert Thorburn, of BT Openreach (Chief Coordinator for Highland and Islands), the idea of a community dig up to the Glenmazeran exchange, connecting fibre directly to every property en-route, with BT Openreach contributing all the cabling, ducting, installation and connections. Subject to full costing and technical specification plans, this project would have been funded through the community as well as contributions from the property owners. Furthermore, the landowners would agree not claim any wayleave on this line and allow BT access for any ongoing maintenance. Initially we were given the impression that this was a solution that BT would be agreeable to.
We had had hoped that an Openreach surveyor/ engineer would meetup in the latter stages of 2016 so we could plan the optimal route for the new cabling so that we could attain quotes from local contractors, with the ambition of a spring 2017 dig commencing but disappointingly, Openreach did not propose any meeting date, even after a number of reminders.
Having continued to press Robert Thorburn, on a fortnightly basis, Robert has explained that his reasoning for not committing to this proposal is because he would like to explore another option first which may not require quite so much community investment or input.
Robert’s latest March 2017 update is the following:
“BT is proactively looking at provision of an upgrade to both the Tomatin and Glenmazeran Exchanges from the max headline Exchange Activate speed of 0.5mbps ( Glenmazeran) and the ADSL speed of 8mbps ( Tomatin) to 20mbps before the end of 2018. Whilst it is anticipated that Tomatin will likely complete during 2017, plans are still being progressed on how Glenmazeran will be deployed too with this technology. A significant amount of work and investment will be required to make this happen. At this point, I have no clear path to explain how BT intend to do this which will be clearer over the next 2/3 months.
For example - when the upgrade occurs in Tomatin - ADSL customers will automatically benefit from slightly increased speeds predominantly those in the village or within a several kms' - it may not necessarily provide any real improvement for those heading towards Glanmazeran but will provide improved connectivity options which could be important for attracting businesses.
The same principle applies though that the further away from the exchange you are the lower the ADSL speeds will be..
Work continues on developing a FTTP and cabinet based fibre solution to support premises along the Strathdearn as we pave the way to reaching Glenmazeran.”
At this stage I would I think our best option is to wait to see what Openreach comes up with. It may be that a further community partnership will be required similar to the Moy project, but as soon as I have a proper update will let you know.