Tomintoul and Glenlivet broadband update from the Development Trust
Cairngorm Community Broadband (CCB) has been set up to provide super-fast broadband to those areas in the Cairngorms that are not, and will not, be served by BT, including our area. They will receive government funding to create their network. This note has been prepared by the Tomintoul and Glenlivet Development Trust (TGDT) summarising what the Trust has been doing, with the two Community Associations, to try and establish CCB’s plans and to convey community concerns and requirements. Please note that CCB is responsible for providing the service and keeping the communties informed, so if you have questions, please contact them directly via email or their Facebook page (see below for details).
In March 2016 Tomintoul & Glenlivet Development Trust was invited to represent our communities on a steering group looking at the viability of developing an aggregated broadband project in the Cairngorms. We had a representative present at every subsequent meeting of the steering group and actively represented our area in the discussions. In November 2016 Cairngorm Community Broadband was incorporated as a Company Limited by Guarantee and, by consensus, the steering group was wound up. Also in November 2016 Cairngorm Community Broadband (CCB) and Community Broadband Scotland (CBS) gave a presentation to the TGDT Annual General Meeting on their plans for super-fast broadband to our area ie AB37 9 postcodes. CCB is responsible for delivering super-fast broadband across those parts of the Cairngorms that are not or will not be supplied by BT or others. CBS is the public body providing the funding, and administering the rules, for all Community Broadband projects in Scotland. The following month TGDT hosted a meeting with CCB to discuss options, and offered to put our knowledge and technical expertise at CCB’s service.
In February 2017 CBS published a map of the eligible areas (so called ‘White Areas’), which included all of AB37 9, except Tomintoul and small areas close to the BT Exchanges. TGDT agreed to liaise with the Community Associations (GICA and KATCA), and to raise community concerns on behalf of all three community bodies. From then until April 2017 TGDT continued to discuss matters with CBS, such as eligible postcode areas, the timetable, and technical specifications. CBS confirmed, to TGDT’s understanding, that all AB37 9 properties in white areas would be covered except a ‘handful’, where technical issues might prevent this. CBS, CCB and the successful tenderer would then work together to provide a service to this ‘handful’. CCB had also confirmed that they aimed to publish the Invitation to Tender (to start work on broadband provision) for the Cairngorms area in mid-May, with the responses evaluated by end July. CBS also said that TGDT should now liaise directly with CCB.
From April 2017 onwards TGDT asked CCB several times for an urgent and comprehensive meeting to discuss community concerns and opportunities to be incorporated in the Invitation to Tender, before it was issued. Our community concerns included:
– ensuring the best possible super-fast broadband coverage by CCB for our area, where not covered by BT;
– clarification of the last connection date, and the need to have multiple start locations, to cover the whole of the Cairngorms areas;
– clear definition of reasonable cost to householders and businesses;
– clarification on how they would ensure the service was fit for purpose and resilient;
– clarification on how they would ensure that the service was ‘future-proofed’.
We again offered to put the knowledge and technical expertise of TGDT at the service of CCB.
Current situation (mid June 2017)
To date, we at TGDT are surprised and disappointed that CCB have not taken up the repeated offer of a meeting to hear community concerns. On 5th of June, CCB did not accept our requests for a meeting, saying in an email that CCB’s business objectives were to ensure that all the points we had raised would be properly and fully addressed in pre- and post-contract negotiations with the successful tenderer. As far as we know, the Invitation to Tender has not yet been released. Meanwhile it has become apparent from Community Broadband Scotland in the last few days that a number of postcodes in our area may still be excluded, as parts of these postcodes are deemed to have already received government funding to improve the service. The issue of which areas are included is complicated, and Toby Sandison of CBS has suggested that people with concerns contact him directly on firstname.lastname@example.org to clarify the matter.
Following CCB’s reply, the Directors of the Development Trust agreed:
– to publish accounts of what has happened to date, and explain our approach;
– to continue to inform CCB and CBS about community concerns and requirements, and to request answers to our questions;
– to explore other options for ultrafast broadband, should CCB service fall below community and contractual expectations;
– to continue to press for the provision of interim basic services, while awaiting CCB delivery, for example where BT broadband coverage has either failed, such as the area around the Tomintoul Distillery, or has never been delivered;
– to continue to press for greater community engagement from CCB.
The Development Trust expects CCB to provide the solution that our area desperately needs. However we remain concerned that CCB has not accepted TGDT’s offer of a meeting to discuss their plans, and community concerns, prior to issuing an Invitation to Tender. We will also be asking how CCB intend to discuss the tenders with the communities. The offer of a meeting between TGDT and CCB remains on the table.
The email address for Cairngorm Community Broadband is email@example.com, and you can also post questions on their Facebook page (search for Cairngorm Community Broadband).
The AB37 9 postcodes that CBS stated this month were certainly IN the CCB area are (in alphabetic order) : AB37 9AJ, AB37 9AP, AB37 9AQ, AB37 9AR, AB37 9DL, AB37 9DN, AB37 9DP, AB37 9DQ, AB37 9DR, AB37 9DS, AB37 9EB, AB37 9EJ, AB37 9EN, AB37 9EP, AB37 9HN, AB37 9HP, AB37 9HQ, AB37 9HR, AB37 9HX, AB37 9JD, AB37 9JJ, AB37 9JL, AB37 9JQ, AB37 9JR, AB37 9JS, AB37 9JT.
For further queries on postcodes, please contact Toby Sandison directly on firstname.lastname@example.org.