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Complaints Slow Western Isles Broadband Rollout

Posted: 13th Feb, 2008 By: MarkJ
The Scottish Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) has confirmed that it is dealing with a number of complaints from residents of Barra, which regard a publicly funded scheme to roll-out wireless broadband on the Western Isles.

The network project, led by Highlands & Islands Enterprise, is one of the first and the largest in the UK to incorporate the 5.8GHz radio frequency bands. The service has been funded through the DTI sponsored Broadband Fund, HIE Innse Gall (Western Isles Enterprise), Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and match funding from the Highlands & Islands Special Transitional Program.

According to BBC News Online, residents argue that the money would be better spent upgrading telephone exchanges for BT to provide cheaper and faster internet services. The concern follows anger surrounding the limited speed and comparatively high cost of the service, which can be seen here (credit to Thinkbroadband for the link):

http://www.hebrides.net/western_isles_broadband_packages.htm

The typical 'Home 1000' symetric (same speed both ways) 1Mbps wireless link package costs £24.99 inc. VAT per month and comes with a meagre data usage cap of just 10GB (GigaBytes) and a 12 month contract. Each additional block of 1GB would also cost a staggering £10!

The HIE expects total expenditure for the project to reach £7.6m over three phases, which is a far cry from 2002’s £1.5m pilot scheme and delivers a service that’s at least three years behind mainland products. Thankfully no further work will take place until after a proposed meeting between the comhairle and community council at the end of the month.
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