back to article Rubbish broadband drives Scottish people out of the Highlands

It's not the midges, weather or crappy nightlife to blame for driving people out of the rural Highlands – it's dodgy broadband speeds, Scottish politicians have been told. At a meeting of the devolved Scottish Parliament's rural affairs committee, Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) were told that sluggish internet …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.

Page:

Moving is a very real possibility for me in rural Suffolk because the broadband is shite. If I squeeze in with all the cattle in the towns at least I can play BF4 or watch a utube videos.

0
0
Silver badge

they don't let you marry your cousin in the big city, and they have a strange aversion to shotguns. thinking of moving back to the country where things are done the old ways.

2
2
Anonymous Coward

"Rubbish broadband drives Scottish people out of the Highlands"

Why does it have to drive them all to stagger drunk round London Railway stations with Super Tenants in hand - making loud indecipherable exclamations in whatever passes for English when North of civilisation?

I do hope they vote for independence so that they are out of the EU, and we can implement some much needed border controls...

1
2
Bronze badge
Windows

Och no my dear, those would be the Glaswegians: I assure you, they are as much of a problem on their own doorstep. As a matter of fact, the current quest for self-determination is just Phase 1 of our game-plan, Phase 2 being the expulsion of Greater Glasgow, Lanarkshire and Renfrewshire.

Unfortunately, being by far the most unionist part of the country (due to cross-pollination with our cousins across the water, whose rank tribalism finds its origins in the rather heavy-handed erstwhile foreign policy of our neighbour to the South) and hellish populous to boot, they are very likely to torpedo Phase 1.

So really, you see, you have only your own forefathers to blame for your transit-hub-hubbub conundrum.

In addition, for the sake of clarity, I should point out that "Super Tenants" are decent chaps who pay our rent/tithes on time. You will seldom find us within range of the grasping hands of a Weegie if we can possibly avoid it!

1
0
ql
Bronze badge
Megaphone

News from the trenches

We have some things here in the northwest Highlands in excess, like military planes buzzing us at extremely low altitude, occasional Minch-fulls of warships (http://www.shipais.com/currentmap.php?map=Minch) like recently, when they also fiddle with local GPS signals and so on. But there is no doubt that BT, having been made the only game in town by the cosy relationships in London, have to be pushed to do anything positive too. At the moment, we have a good solid "up to 8MB" service, and while BT got the bung to install a loop of fibre around the northern coast, they are apparently choosing to make it just that - a loop, with no local access in the north west to the fibre that will be running less than 10 miles from us. Both my wife and I are dependant on internet connections to make a living. So I hope that the political use of "95%" coverage doesn't just mean the central belt and Inverness.

4
1
Silver badge
Trollface

Re: News from the trenches

Never mind, when you become independant, you will no longer need BRITISH telecom or rely on London....

5
6
Anonymous Coward

Re: News from the trenches

"So I hope that the political use of "95%" coverage doesn't just mean the central belt and Inverness."

You know the answer. Unless you happen to live in a place close to the country residence of an MP, MSP, or other 1%ers.

Having said that, if you and your wife are dependent upon the internet to earn a living, don't you think it's more incumbent upon you to move where the infrastructure exists? In my work, the "infrastructure" is big business head offices, and that means either a few niche roles outside of London, or the grim reality of commuting long distance to the latter (or worse still, moving). I'm not demanding that the activity of the City be redistributed by force or bribes across the rest of Britain, even thought that would suit me, so why should I sub your lifestyle choices?

5
4

Re: News from the trenches

I too am dependent on ADSL, working from home for an I.T. company, and I too have a solid 8Mb connection (SNR 6.5, so only just). Whilst I'm not in the Highlands, I'm in rural Perthshire (about 2 miles south of the fault line) and I'm on an Exchange Only line (fed straight from our 138-premises Essendy exchange). Hell will freeze over before Scottish Government, P&K Council, or BT (take your pick) upgrades our exchange, and even when it does, my EO line will probably still limit me to 8Mb.

Yes, I choose to live here. And no, I'm not jealous of the 100Mb+ connections elsewhere in the country. Well okay, just a bit jealous. If I could get 20Mb down, and 2-3Mb up, I'd be happy with that.

I suspect I'll be in the remaining 5%.....

0
0

Re: News from the trenches

AC: "so why should I sub your lifestyle choices?"

That question is not the right one to ask. The question is if investment into further development of those area's might benefit the larger community on the long run. Developing IT infrastructure is not the only thing: you need to keep developing or actively encouraging some minimum of infrastructure, community, transport, light commerce and so on. And all investments have an element of gambling, it might not turn out to work but that's a risk one can calculate.

3
0

Re: News from the trenches

It's still the right question to ask. Why should the whole country sub your lifestyle choices. If you want to live out in the sticks and want to work in IT then you have to make a choice, move or pay more for your broadband. If that means your local community pays more for it's broadband because its out in the sticks, then so be it. If a company thinks its worthwhile to put in the infrastructure and thinks it can recover its costs over the long term, then let it - don't get the tax payer to subsidize such risky investments.

3
6
Silver badge

Re: News from the trenches

"The question is if investment into further development of those area's might benefit the larger community on the long run. "

Well come along then! We understand how the rural digital have-nots benefit. But make your case as to how rural broadband helps those who currently live in well served urban areas, and those who currently live in a rural area and don't care about the lack of broadband?

As somebody living in a well served urban area paying a commercial operator (VM), I can't see how I am helped in any way by subbing your broadband. Probable outcomes are a very marginal decline in some urban property values, and rising pricing and more development in rural areas as reluctant townies find they suddenly can live in nice rural areas and still be connected.

So even if the financial case were supported, will the proponents of rural broadband be happy with higher property prices and additional development? My money's on the notion that they want the convenience of broadband, but most would be deeply unhappy with its consequences.

4
3

Re: News from the trenches

To all of those saying that people should move and not subsidize the connections.

Fine. But that means that all of the online only services that are provided by taxes also have to have a real world presence in those places.Ouch, there goes a lot of money! (Or should people living in the sticks also be denied anything provided by the government that requires online access?)

What about getting people into jobs (many companies these days have online only applications)? Or should those in the sticks just take benefit instead (you can at least do that over the phone still...)

What about the swathes of the population who would be consumers if they had the connection to do so? Or if people live in the sticks is their money not worth anything to the economy?

There are an awful lot of selfish people in the world who can't see past the end of their nose, and if it's not directly benefiting them then obviously it is not worth doing. Wonderful people trying to create even more of a two tier society...

There are a lot of things that do not directly benefit me, but are provided to those who need it. And I am very happy that they are - the world would be a much worse place without it.

(That said, if it is subsidized then the right people should also make sure that a company isn't milking the system and making a mint whilst claiming that subsidy)

8
0
Silver badge
Boffin

Re: News from the trenches

Why not put together a DIY solution? Do any of the residents know how to operate a JCB, build a few walls and the like?

Other rural communities have done it.

Remember the reports on this very site about LOS microwave connections?

Have you or any of the other residents of your village even considered this DIY option?

Who knows , you might get some dosh from Mr Salmond and his cronies?

3
1

Re: News from the trenches

As somebody living in a well served urban area paying a commercial operator (VM), I can't see how I am helped in any way by subbing your broadband.

Okay fine fine we will sub it ourselves. You may find your pint of Milk, Loaf of Bread and other such consumables has just gone up 3000%. But yes we in the Country will sub it ourselves.

Probable outcomes are a very marginal decline in some urban property values, and rising pricing and more development in rural areas as reluctant townies find they suddenly can live in nice rural areas and still be connected.

Many houses in the Country are owned by uppity (they are not all like this) Townies. You really think this will change anything?

4
0

This post has been deleted by its author

Silver badge

Re: News from the trenches

"You may find your pint of Milk, Loaf of Bread and other such consumables has just gone up 3000%"

Only if I choose to buy it from you, which obviously I wouldn't. There is no such leverage where I can grow my own or buy on the open market. Funnily enough, those are both options for the rural broadband requestors - do it yourselves, or be prepared to pay what a commercial provider demands.

5
4
ql
Bronze badge

Re: News from the trenches

"Why not put together a DIY solution?"

We're looking at that, in conjunction with the next parish along, but there is still this thing called backhaul, and if there is ANY ADSL service, a DIY option is effectively a competing one, which muddies the water a bit.

0
0
ql
Bronze badge
Unhappy

Re: News from the trenches

"so why should I sub your lifestyle choices?"

Huh? Not sure how you made that mental leap, but may I suggest, that (a) you get out more, and (b) study a little of exactly what civil society entails. Mostly get out more.

4
2
Silver badge
FAIL

Re: News from the trenches

Never mind, when you become independant (sic), you will no longer need BRITISH telecom or rely on London....

When Scotland becomes Salmond's personal thiefdom feifdom do you really think he'll start to give an actual fuck about the Highlands?

3
2
Silver badge

Re: News from the trenches

"study a little of exactly what civil society entails"

No, sir, I think you need to study what civil society entails. It isn't a bottomless pit of public spending to bring every desirable aspect of town to country, nor even country to town. And it isn't about magicking up broadband as a universal human right, to suit the convenience of a few, at the expense of the many. If you beg to differ, where's the line? Do you want rural public transport to have the frequency of the Bakerloo line? Of subsidised arts and culture to give the people of remote hamlets local access to performances by the RSC? Or rural emergency services response times of a handful of minutes? Or access to expert healthcare in well equipped hospitals?

It works both ways, but there's a reason why the countryside is relatively pretty and relatively unspoilt, and a related reason why stuff's cheap for those in the satanic mills.

0
1

Re: News from the trenches

Only if I choose to buy it from you, which obviously I wouldn't. There is no such leverage where I can grow my own or buy on the open market. Funnily enough, those are both options for the rural broadband requestors - do it yourselves, or be prepared to pay what a commercial provider demands.

Your talking about subsidies! You do realise, don't you that Farmers are subsidised, quite a lot. If you want subsidies removed on Broadband roll-out (a necessary part of life due to movement of Gov services) then surely you advocate removing the subsidies from the Farms (you don't like paying for things remember,) you know they only produce your food stocks right another necessary service, quite and old one at that? Your open market is now looking rather like an open market still. But quite an expensive one.

And please, please show me in which room in your town hose or garden you are keeping all the required animals for your (I assume normal) diet?

You may be able to grow food for yourself and live on some Carrots and onions but your asking for the whole of the town to do that? I ask you again, where in the town are you finding the space to produce all this?

No that's right once again you are not looking beyond your own wallet.

4
2

This post has been deleted by its author

Anonymous Coward

Re: News from the trenches

Ledswinger: So your not happy about having to subsidise rural broadband as you can't see the benefit for yourself.

Well, we the countryside have decided we've had enough of loosing good farmland and houses to reservoirs supplying you townies with fresh drinking water, so we're just going to turn the taps off and drain them back down. Of course, it was your decision to live in a town that's too big to provide for its own water supply needs, but we're sure you'll sort it out.

Most rural dwellers can see that getting 80/100mbit fibre to every house isn't feasible, we're talking about places that can't get broadband *AT ALL* due to line length issues, exchanges not being upgraded and ancient cabling. 2mbit might not sound much to someone sitting on 130meg of VM goodness, but it means you can at least get SD iPlayer (a benefit when you might not even have terrestrial TV reception) and reasonable response on sites like the DVLA, DEFRA and HMRC, which aren't designed for low-bandwidth connections any more (try it on dial-up and you'll probably hit a timeout on any complex multi-page form)

The DIY route could work, but the usual problem with rural broadband is that the connection points are scattered far and wide, and if your up in the mountains then line of sight isn't always guaranteed, and if the exchange itself is still unconnected your still pretty stuck.

Also, rural dwellers pay the same for a TV licence, but suffer a much reduced service compared to towns (half the digital terrestrial multiplexes if your lucky), so subsidy works both ways.

2
0

Re: News from the trenches

>>> When Scotland becomes Salmond's personal thiefdom feifdom do you really think he'll start to give an actual fuck about the Highlands?

Salmond's seat is Banff and Buchan, which is the area around Peterhead, on the North-East Aberdeenshire coast. It's not exactly very urban.

1
0

Re: News from the trenches

Competition with the local ADSL is actually EXACTLY what you want. As soon as someone starts competing with Brutish Telecom then said company has to up its game or lose trade, and it usually isn't smart enough to realise that a local company is just that, local, and not a national threat.

0
0
Bronze badge

Re: News from the trenches

>Where's the line?

Well, many rural areas have no meaningful public transport at all, while the transport infrastructure in London is massively subsidised (orders of magnitude more is spent per head than in other parts of the country).

Decent universal broadband would allow business and services to be shifted from expensive metropolitan centres to areas with lower costs as well as providing those rural areas with access to things like performances by the RSC and healthcare experts in well-equipped hospitals that might not be physically close. And it could be provided at a tiny fraction of the amount of money being spent on Crossrail, for example.

One reason why "stuff's cheap for those in the satanic mills" is that the real cost has been externalised.

1
0
Bronze badge

Re: News from the trenches

" But make your case as to how rural broadband helps those who currently live in well served urban areas"

People in rural areas have cats they can video and upload to youtube as well you know!

2
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: News from the trenches

"don't you that Farmers are subsidised, quite a lot"

Only because of over production and inefficiency. Basically we keep the French in the style to which they are accustomed...One good reason to leave the EU.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: News from the trenches

"while the transport infrastructure in London is massively subsidised (orders of magnitude more is spent per head than in other parts of the country"

Because London earns orders of magnitude more money than other parts of the country (and subsidises most of the rest of the country via it's tax payments....)

0
0
Silver badge

Could it be ..

companies are holding back investing until they know the score on independence ?

0
0
dak
Thumb Down

Re: Could it be ..

No.

0
0
Silver badge

The modern day Clearance

From Wikipedia: "On 23 July 2007, the Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond unveiled a 10 ft-high bronze "Exiles" statue in Helmsdale, Sutherland, which commemorates the people who were cleared from the area by landowners and left their homeland to begin new lives overseas."

Maybe the clown can now unveil a big bronze statue to the modern day clearances, depicting those cleared from the land by the failure or the Scottish Parliament to subsidise roll out of free rural broadband, piping red-hot grumble into every remote croft?

The new statue could feature a frustrated highlander, kilt akimbo, sitting in front of a PC connected by a dial up modem featuring the flag of St George. A box of tissues is next to the keyboard, but it is symbolically unopened. This poignant work of art would be installed at the mouth of Glencoe, depicting to the world how even today all suffering in Scotland is the fault of the English.

5
5

Re: The modern day Clearance

Scotland should celebrate the clearances. It allowed all those people to go off and do wonderful things such as build America. If it wasn't for the clearances Scots would still be living by subsistence farming and looking for more handouts from the EU because they had not got off their arses.

1
6
Anonymous Coward

Re: The modern day Clearance

"If it wasn't for the clearances Scots would still be living by subsistence farming and looking for more handouts from the EU because they had not got off their arses."

Great for America, Australia and New Zealand et al, bad for Scotland (arguably not so good for indigenous peoples in the colonies, but hey-ho, eggs, omelettes). The problem is now that those with get up and go have got up and gone. What you're left with is a nation depleted of its brightest and most energetic. Look at the public sector theme park that is Wales, for a further example. Internationally the same is true - selective immigration policies encourage clever and well qualified immigrants, which means for example that the Indian descended population in the UK or US are unrepresentative of the sub-continent. Even for refugees and asylum seekers, these people need a degree of determination and enterprise above the average to successfully leave a troubled homeland and flee through the many and varied obstacles to a new life on the other side of the world. That's a huge brain drain for developing countries. Maybe their policy makers should ban emigration, telling their population "you don't want to end up like Scotland, do you?"

Perhaps the aborigines have had their vengeance on Scotland.

1
1
Bronze badge

Re: The modern day Clearance

Banning emigration worked well for the "Workers Paradise" named German Democratic Republic. The thankful population was actually looking for ways to donate large amounts of hemp to their leaders but was bribed with bananas to settle for exiling them and sending some to jail.

0
0

"Some research I have seen in the last year or so has started to show some evidence of that ..."

Now there's an investment winning business case if I ever heard one.

1
0
Silver badge

Tell me again, why is this a problem?

> There is now evidence of people leaving rural communities to live in urban areas ... due to a lack of connectivity ... due to lack of access to higher education, affordable housing or employment

Basically, the (ex) inhabitants of these regions are moving away because they can get a better quality of life elsewhere. That's a good thing, surely!

There's nothing sacred about being able to live in the same town where you were born or grew up. People always move about (sometimes to "get on their bikes ... ") and improve their lives by doing so. What the government should be doing is encouraging mobility: making housing and jobs available in the locations where people want to live. Building homes that people can afford to buy or rent and ensuring there are enough schools, shops, hospitals and roads in those places.

There's little point spending £££s installing broadband if the population has all buggered off due to a lack of schools, shops or decent houses.

2
3
Silver badge

I think Scotland could make a lot of money, from being some kind of tech centre.

Think about it: Cheap house prices, gorgeous locations, and an Internet connection. It's ideal for the "work-from-home" crowd that are supposed to be taking over the world.

Certainly things like tech support over remote access would benefit, and VOIP-based call centers (I've spent a lot of time lately talking to the spammers who phone my employer and it seems that a lot of them are sitting at home with employer-provided equipment to make cheap phone calls), and then you'll get some job moving up there. I'd consider it. Gimme a snowed-in house with an Internet connection over the M25 commute any day.

But the problem is that half-measures aren't enough. You need to SURPASS what we take for granted now in London and the surrounding areas. Just broadband is pathetic. You need decent, stable, unstoppable fibre at high speeds so that you don't have to do it again for 30-40 years. By the time you give these people BT broadband, it will already be obsolete.

There's certainly an opportunity there for cheap labour (I can get a house there for next-to-nothing, but getting a job that pays what it pays down in London is impossible), which is very commercially viable, but it means investing properly now and quickly. (Aren't Scottish accents also one of the most trusted and best to be put on customer service?).

My father-in-law lives in the depths of the Highlands. He has broadband. It's flaky, slow, only on his road, and still relies on a copper line. Driving down the road to a pub is actually the best way to get online, when it's open. Hell, getting a parcel collected is nigh-on impossible as he found out when he tried to sell a piano on eBay - NOBODY would come collect it from his postcode, but yet he has "broadband".

If Scotland wanted to be independent, they could make a LOT of money by investing heavily to get everyone on something 25-50Mbps (whatever that is) and waited for the people to flood up there.

1
0
Anonymous Coward

"If Scotland wanted to be independent, they could make a LOT of money by investing heavily to get everyone on something 25-50Mbps (whatever that is) and waited for the people to flood up there."

Very welcoming to incomers, the Scots. They'll be delighted at the Sassenach invasion, the escalation in house prices.

But that's hypothetical, and makes no difference to the debate on rural broadband, which comes down to the economic problem of infrastructures serving low population densities. That always means a very high network length per customer, and that means high cost per customer. The only way you'd change that would be to quite literally turn rural areas into one big town. And in that case the "gorgeous locations" become sh1tty suburban sprawl, even in the unlikely event that people would flock to Scotland for the broadband.

0
0
Silver badge

Or use broadcast technologies. Radio, Satellite, Cellular.

To be honest, except for in a few unnervingly enclosed and remote parts of Scotland, you tend to get 2G at the very least. Upgrade and expand that to 4G and job done. Deploy proper long-distance wireless radio links and job done. Approve a particular satellite provider (and why not incorporate that with those radio/4G links doing upload and the sat doing download) and you have a world-class broadband network.

All without running any cables to anyone's door, and only slightly expanding deployed coverage.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Mobile service works where it's flat. The Highlands aren't usually terribly flat, and away from the main trunk roads I would imagine mobile coverage is similar to north wales (patchy at best).

The second problem is latency, satellite broadband does have the benefit of working anywhere you can see the sky, but latency is a pretty big issue. If it came down to a choice between satellite and nowt then obviously you'd stick with satellite, but a fixed line is usually superior.

0
0
Go

Or tell BT to get stuffed and do it yourself...

We did:

http://www.marykirk.com

Now, if only BT would take less than a MONTH to install an ADSL connection in the nearest town.

---* Bill

2
0

Given that most people live in towns and cities, achieving 95% broadband coverage might still leave most inhabitants of rural and remote areas unconnected, surely. Doesn't sound like the right target if the goal is to make rural life attractive, or practical.

1
0

This post has been deleted by its author

Bronze badge

why can tarmac do it?

To build a tarmac road and and 'leccy to every tiniest hamlet in the UK at £?? per metre... Done! With no fuss and a massive dollop of public funding.

To put fibre within 10 miles of very hamlet int he UK with lower tech cable or radio to connect the last 10 miles... er... not doable even if much much cheaper per mile than new tarmac or pylons (you can string fibre over existing pylons...).

DUH!

0
0
Gav

Telecommute!

If you could depend on a solid broadband connection, and had a job that allowed for tele-commuting, many parts of the Scottish Highlands would be a wonderful place to stay.

Obviously if you're looking for frantic nightlife just down the road, and a selection of grotty takeaways, then it's not your kind of place. But the benefits I see far outweigh that.

But if the broadband is rubbish.. well things become untenable.

0
0
Bronze badge

It is set to become the "Saudi Arabia" of wind energy

Little wonder the men in skirts are leaving, then...

1
3
Happy

..all those wind workers...

"wind worker" - not a term I'd heard before, although a quick check with a search engine shows that it is used.

Hebridean rock group Runrig have a song called "Worker for the Wind". Written in 1987. Ahead of the game, as the canny folk from the islands usually are...

0
0
Bronze badge

Why not get Satellite broadband?

Having only had a cursory look it doesn't seem to cost any more than a new Virgin or Sky connection and seems to claim some ok'ish upstream and downstream speeds? But then as I said - it was only a cursory look so happy to hear any reasons why it might not be applicable.

Thanks.

1
1
Boffin

Re: Why not get Satellite broadband?

In one word: Latencey. Have you ever used satellite broadband? Thought not.

Seriously - for satellite broadband the killer is latencey. A modern web page with all its asorted irrelevant junk, 3rd party links and other assorted debris takes for ever to download. Doesn't matter a jot if it tells you you have a 1 mbit downlink - you will only get that sort of speed if you are ftping a single file.

1
0

Page:

This topic is closed for new posts.

Forums