Superfast Broadband At Risk of Sinking in Tiree

Tiree Broadband

Tiree Community Broadband (CIT Ltd) are calling on Openreach to provide them with a Fibre to the Premises connection for their network access point which sits less than 20 metres from the island exchange.

CIT Ltd, with the support of Tiree Community Development Trust and Tiree Community Council are asking for an urgent review of Openreach’s approach to fibre provision in Tiree after being refused the connection.

CIT Ltd are an island based community broadband company who operate not-for-profit. They have been running since 2005 to cover households without suitable internet and ensure the best possible connections for island residents. It became clear very late in the day that the proposed R100 Superfast Broadband scheme for Tiree would have large gaps in provision.

As the R100 is not due to arrive in Tiree until 2024, residents are eligible for a voucher to help them access 30MB speeds. The only possible provider would be the community broadband company. Following a review of their network, which runs at 10MB and is already at capacity, Tiree Broadband have said that offering 30MB speeds is not possible based on the current infrastructure.

The key issue is that Openreach is unwilling to provide Tiree Broadband with direct access to a fibre connection (Fibre to the Premises). Because of this the company is forced to juggle multiple domestic copper lines to provide a service to their customers.

Chair of Tiree Broadband, Rhoda Meek said, “Now that we are aware of the final R100 rollout plans and the gaps in it, we see that we are once again forced to try and upgrade our network to cover the lack of basic provision. Unfortunately, we have reached the end of the road with sticky tape and string solutions. To support additional speeds, we need Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) for Tiree Broadband. Despite multiple pleas over a number of years, Openreach is unwilling to provide that.

“We are currently forced to serve the island using multiple domestic copper lines. To give you an idea of our challenges, our last 3 line installations took 3 months from the point of order. We serve 280 households on the equivalent of 12 domestic lines.”

The island exchange is less than 20 metres away from our network access point, complete with a connecting duct, and yet we are unable to access a full fibre service. It is frustrating to say the least.”

Fibre to the Premises connections already exist in Tiree, having been given to multiple mobile phone companies, the NATs radar service and the school. On one site, the fibre is run to a mobile phone mast less than 90 feet from a Tiree Broadband access point.

Meek concluded, “The fact that the final R100 roll out will not cover all properties in Tiree with fibre is bad enough, but to refuse us access to a commercial fibre connection – when we are the group covering the gaps in provision – is outrageous. We are calling on politicians of all parties to support us in trying to rectify this situation.”