Latest news – July 2021
We would love to hear from you if you live in the area (Preston, Abbey St Bathans and Bonkyl Community Council area), to help us to gauge community interest in improved internet speeds. Responding to the survey is not a guarantee that your area will be connected, and there is no obligation on you to purchase a package, so it is risk-free. It is simply designed to assess the need for improved speeds and the willingness of properties to access improved internet if it were made available while we wait for R100.
Options for filling out the PACT Broadband Survey:
- By hand or post: All properties in the area should now have received a copy of the survey, with instructions on where to send this to, if you are unable to fill in the online survey.
- Download & post: You can download this form here: PACT Broadband survey print, fill out and post to Bankend House, Abbey St Bathans, TD11 3TY
About the broadband survey
Scottish government broadband rollout / R100: The government is rolling out its “R100” programme, which aims to reach 100% of all rural properties with fast internet speeds. The plan was designed to be complete by the end of 2021, but we have been told that our area falls within the final phase of the rollout out and we will not be reached until late 2023, and possibly into 2024. The good news is that when it reaches us, the R100 programme will provide almost every property the opportunity to connect with Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP), with speeds of up to 300 Mbps.
In the meantime, speeds are too slow: Obviously the bad news is that R100 and the potential to sign up for superfast / Gigabit internet isn’t coming to us for at least a few more years. In the meantime, the pandemic and associated lockdowns have highlighted the drawbacks of living without acceptable internet in a world that expects us all to have superfast internet. Businesses, people working from home, and students doing home-schooling have all suffered.
Our proposal: PACT is considering funding the installation of one or more masts as part of a radio-signal-based internet network to reach areas of our community that are currently poorly served by any existing network internet providers. If PACT funds radio masts and signal repeaters for the most needy areas, residents would only need to purchase their monthly internet package – we are told speeds would be 30Mbps, at a price of approximately £40-45 a month, and there are also government vouchers available for some of the installation costs normally charged to each property.
The supplier: We are in negotiations with Borderlink, who would consider working with us if they have a feeling for how many properties are likely to sign up for a monthly package. Although PACT will cover most of the installation costs, the supplier needs to know it makes business sense to install this infrastructure, hence the survey we have just launched above.
The Community Council (ABPCC) and PACT have, for some time, been investigating how to improve broadband services in our area. This has proved to be harder than first thought. The following is some background on how things have progressed over the last few years.
Berwickshire Community Broadband
The CC, along with four other CC areas, did a massive amount of work with Community Broadband Scotland (CBS). There was a substantial amount of money available, but no guarantee of a bidder for our proposal. As you may have read, CBS then ran into their own troubles and, on their advice, the proposal was dropped. A failed bid would have put us at the bottom of the list for the R100 build. Reaching 100% is backed by the Scottish Government.
802 Event wi-fi
A representative from 802 Events came and gave a very encouraging report on a new form of broadband, using ‘white space’ technology. This can travel through trees and is able to bend a little around hills. Unfortunately, this never got past the talking stage as to the company was unable to secure space on the mobile phone masts in our area.
We contacted this company several times and though they promised to get back to us we are still waiting. They seem to have bigger fish to fry just now.
This point to point wireless link was looked into as an option previously, but put on hold as we explored the implications in relation to the government’s R100 roll out. We are now are actively pursuing this option again (see “latest news” above).