Currently only around 40% of Westray houses are able to be offered a 2 mbs broadband service (considered a baseline for todays internet needs), with many areas of Westray where speeds are unacceptably slow, and frequent drop-outs of service even in “good” areas.
With the push from the UK and Scottish Governments to implement a new superfast Internet highway that utilises the Next Generation Access (NGA) broadband technology we want to make sure Westray has the best opportunities for getting the same level of service as everywhere else, which in our remote community means we have to take some initiative ourselves.
Its exciting to see other projects where communities have installed their own fibreoptic cable, or are running their own telecoms companies, and doing it all for the same kind of ongoing cost as traditional service providers.
Westray has got together with two other Isles development trusts to investigate what really is possible here. An initial feasibility study is now underway (mid October 2012) to see if fibreoptic cable laying really is an option, whether working in partnership with other isles will give an economy of scale to make it financially viable, and whether community ownership or management of any part of internet services would be appropriate. With the results of the study to hand we will be in a good position to put in a bid to the new £5 million Community Broadband Fund to make it all happen, as well as being able to share what we learn with other isles.