20th January 2017

Dear Sir or Madam,

GigaPlus Argyll Update January 2017

At last – Construction has now started!

We are delighted to announce that construction of the GigaPlus Argyll network is now underway by our contractor, AB Internet. Concrete bases for several masts have been installed using Mull based Skyhook Helicopters. Other bases and masts of different types will be installed through the coming months. Eventually the network will comprise nearly 40 masts spread across the area of the project ranging from Mull in the north, to Islay and Jura in the south.

The current ambition is that the first customer connections will be available in late spring with the network being fully operational by the winter. However, on such a major project there are always new risks to these timetables. Nothing is ever certain when working in the remoter parts of the west coast!

Air-lifting concrete for mast plinths

The scale and complexity of the project has brought with it unforeseen challenges, not really surprising as we are breaking new ground in the way that the project is funded and will operate. These challenges have included high level “State Aid” issues which have required input from the Department of Culture Media and Sport in London and more mundane issues of identifying owners of land willing to host our equipment and then securing planning consent. One such problem has been the Isle of Luing, where, after extended discussions, the local community have decided that their existing ADSL broadband service is sufficient and they want to await future alternative solutions for Next Generation Broadband. The design of the network is therefore being amended to find an alternative site to complete the network between Mull and the Craignish Peninsula. Elsewhere, we’re really grateful to all the landowners who are supporting the project by hosting our equipment and playing a valuable part in bringing the benefits of fast reliable broadband to their local communities.

We are delighted that more than one Internet Service Provider plans to offer a service over the GigaPlus Argyll network; this avoids a monopoly and ensures subscribers will have a choice. Further details will be available soon.

The network will be served from a fibre uplink site in Oban which has an uncontended 1Gb fibre optic cable, so we are confident that the system performance will not fluctuate in the way that our existing ADSL broadband service does.

GigaPlus Argyll is a Community Benefit Society run by volunteers and we are looking for increased representation, particularly on Colonsay, Islay and Jura. We meet regularly and make use of telephone conferencing and (subject to broadband!!) systems such as Skype, to allow remote participation in such meetings.

The project is funded with a £988,000 grant from Community Broadband Scotland and is part of the Scottish Governments commitment to providing Next Generation Broadband to remote communities.

For more information please visit the project website www.gigaplusargyll.co.uk or contact our Project Manager, Richard Thorne on 01680 812906 or rthorne@gigaplusargyll.co.uk

Yours sincerely,

Moray Finch
Chairman, GigaPlus Argyll