Shinness Broadband Investigation


As local readers may recall, in 2016 I, Charles Macfarlane, put a leaflet around Shinness reporting that the neighbourhood would not be included in the imminent rollout of FTTC at the Lairg Exchange, and asking whether there would be interest in improving things.  Receiving a comfortable majority of positive responses, I created the submission linked below and sent it to Highlands & Islands Enterprise (HIE) on 29/12/2016.  However, unfortunately our submission was rejected by HIE, because of budgetary constraints  they are tasked with covering the maximum amount of people in the minimum amount of time with the funds given to them, so their funding structure is not geared to the needs of rural communities such as ourselves.


Fibre To The Cabinet (FTTC)

Subsequently, hearing of new funding being available, I approached HIE again, and this time was able to get the first part of our plan approved, with the result that in 2019 a single FTTC cabinet, number 6, was installed at the junction between the A838 and Tirryside NC566103, and anyone who lives within 2km, about 1.2mi, intervening roadside distance from the cabinet should be able to benefit from it  this includes Collabol, Tirryside, and Achfrish up to and possibly including 23 'Duchally' and 'The Forge'.  To do so, a subscriber can simply request FTTC from their current ISP, but it's worth noting that, if a householder is prepared to shop around, a FTTC deal that is about the same or even a little less than their current ADSL deal may be available from a different supplier.

Note: Formerly, all Shinness premises were on Exchange Only (EO) lines.  Then, when FTTC came to Lairg, most, but not quite all, Shinness lines were re-routed via Cabinet 4, the then nearest cabinet to us, on the junction below Lockharts at the sharp bend around the end of the loch.  Now most have been moved to the new Cabinet 6 at Tirryside, but shortly after its commissioning I knew of at least 6 that by that time had not been moved, though obviously I can not advertise these numbers publicly, so I would recommend that any Shinness resident who is in doubt check their number at this site:
   Broadband Availability Checker

Although since this new cabinet came online there is anecdotal evidence that the service to all now connected to it has somewhat improved, that still left the majority of the area not significantly improved.


Highland Wireless

Cameron Warren, trading as Highland Wireless, in liaison with Lairg & District Community Initiatives, has set up an affordable wireless broadband scheme covering all of Shinness.  Details are available from the firm's website.


Mobile Services

Although coverage is patchy, most areas of Shinness can now get a reasonable 4G mobile service, which they can use for internet access.  This is what I have done, discontinuing my landline altogether.  Although many mobile plans are prohibitively expensive when considered as a replacement for the sort of usage that nowadays a landline is expected to provide  the most recent Ofcom figures I have seen were that the average family download rate is about 190GB per month  if you can get a decent signal and a decent plan, then in my experience 4G is another viable alternative.



The documents linked below tell the story of our efforts so far …

  1. Leaflet 1
  2. ISP Comparison (no longer a seperate document as included in FTTC Submission)
  3. Interactive Map Of Ongoing Work (that included with the FTTC Submission was a simplified version of this)
  4. Background Information (that wasn't eventually included in the FTTC Submission)
  5. Investigation of possible FTTC plans underpinning that included in the FTTC Submission
  6. Meeting With Magda Macdonald, Development Officer Lairg & District Community Initiatives, 16/12/2016 - Minutes
  7. Proposed Leaflet 2 (not circulated as agreed above with Magda)
  8. Telephone conversation with Sarah Marshall, Community Broadband Scotland - Notes
  9. Request For FTTC Inclusion Submitted to HIE on 29/12/2016
  10.      Interactive map accompanying above (simplified version of that above)
  11.      Covering email for above
  12.      Covering leaflet for above
  13.      Email rejecting our submission
  14. What can & should we do next?
  15. Email update to local residents, 07/11/2019
  16. Rural Gigabit Voucher Scheme, 20/05/2019
  17. OpenReach Estimate for FTTP - Core Community (50 Premises), 20/06/2019