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.
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.
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.
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 …