Superfast fibre optic broadband is unlikely to be the answer for some of the more rural parts of Berwickshire and a number of community councils (including Lammermuir, Abbey St Bathans, Preston and Bonkyl and Gavinton, Fogo and Polwarth) have joined forces to look at funding a larger-scale wireless scheme which could be the solution for these communities.
Lammermuir Community Council chairman Mark Rowley brought the problem to the attention of Scottish Borders Council at last week’s Berwickshire Area Forum and called for the council to recognise this emerging issue and put dedicated officers in place to help guide communities through the complicated processes. “It seems that in our area especially, the Scottish Superfast broadband roll out looks very likely to under achieve its aims,” said Mr Rowley.
“We always expected that the remote rural communities, such as the Lammermuirs, were likely to be in the section that wasn’t reached and we’ve long asked for confirmation of that so we can start planning to make our own provision.
“BT are still saying that fibre will reach the exchange in Longformacus this year but all of the evidence shows that the 80MB that is delivered by fibre rapidly degrades as it makes its way to premises along variable-quality copper wires.
“The current thinking is that those beyond 1.2km will see no benefit with the arrival of fibre.
“In the Lammermuirs we have some properties that are 10km or more of aged copper wire away from any possible fibre termination.
“In a survey of all of our residents just one resident has managed a speed of 7MB, many are sub 0.5 and others have given up on internet entirely.
“As a community council we see broadband as a vital utility.
“We are remote and rural. We have poor TV signal, negligible mobile coverage and no digital radio. We have no shops and few facilities so we have a greater need to access these online.
“This is a clear challenge for the community council.”