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Outer Hebrides wins European award
Wednesday 23 May 2007 17:29:57 by John Hunt

Connected Communities, a wireless broadband network connecting schools, businesses and residents in the Outer Hebrides has been given a best exhibit award at the Bridging the Broadband Gap two day conference in Brussels. Selected from 160 projects from throughout Europe that applied and beating 9 other UK projects, it shows innovation and financial viability. Awards were selected by the participants of the conference from the 50 exhibits.

The service operates using a 5.8GHz wireless network, capable of delivering 54Mbps to subscribers. The network covers 33 locations, expanded from the original plan due to a larger number of out of reach areas than originally estimated due to the topography and distances involved. Existing masts are used where possible and new are built at strategic points throughout the five main islands.

More information is available on the Connected Communities website. Package information is available at with the basic Home 500 package (512Kbps), offering symmetric (same upstream as downstream) speeds for £19.99 per month.


Posted by dauphin over 10 years ago
The truth is less rosy.
Project started 5 years ago; took so long to get going that it was overtaken by BT providing ADSL in some parts of the islands. Finally invited to sign up in Dec05, then told no coverage at my location, despite Scottish Executive's claim to have provided b/b to all communities in Scotland. Dec06: announced it would take until March08 to complete all the relay sites; not a peep about progress since then.
54Mbps? Don't make me laugh! 1Mbps costs £24, 2Mbps £80 per month; needless to say, they don't quote for anything faster! Reliability well short of ADSL levels.
Posted by Isleoflewis over 10 years ago
The speed, reliability&support of is very poor. Strange every exchange in UK has been upgraded but 21 exchanges in western isles hasnt as it wasnt commercially viable. How was it viable to upgrade all exchanges but not these? I hope people push for BT to upgrade their exchanges. Alot of campaigns were started&successful so dont see why people of WI couldnt do same. WIE make out in press release they are the only provider of BB in WI, no wonder they won the award. If only people that gave the award knew the whole truth, but cover up everything to do with the whole project.
Posted by Isleoflewis over 10 years ago
you should post your comments here too. show the people that gave the award what people think of the service they provide or should I say not provide.
Posted by cyberdoyle over 10 years ago
post your comments on the EU site then the info you have gets to the right people?
Posted by mac111 over 10 years ago
I have had the service from early days and it has been good for me, i had long accepted i wouldn't get ADSL being that my exchange resembles a large shed. I don't have a problem with price being that it's synchronous service.
Posted by hellsbells over 10 years ago
Well we live in hope that they read the comments, but I do doubt it. Bar the project that I am involved in (SWBB) there was no real interactivity from users, which says a lot.
Posted by dauphin over 10 years ago
It was originally promised that pricing would be on a par with elsewhere, which it plainly isn't.I don't think many people, given the option, would choose to pay substantially more for the privilege of a synchronous service. Given the pricing, no ordinary consumer in the islands is going to be able to afford more than 1Mbps so why do WIE crow about 54Mbps?
mac111, I don't know your location, but in Uist it only takes one of the links further up the line to go down and service is lost. Maybe you are in Lewis and depend on fewer links?
Posted by MadEddieH over 10 years ago
I've got ADSL and ConnComm.The ConnComm is far more reliable. My ADSL has a maximum of 512K down and 256 up because I am far from the exchange I very rarely achieve even the 512. My ConnComm is a Synch 1M and it is massively consistent. Also people keep on bleating about synchronous not being important but I reckon it is, I send big emails as well as upload stuff all the time and I am more than happy to pay for synchronous. ConnComm did some roadshows recently and the guy in charge said as the customerbase grew they were committed to increasing the bandwidth that people got for their money.
Posted by herdwick over 10 years ago
"every exchange in UK has been upgraded" - oh no it hasn't. Quite a lot of those that were were subsidised by schemes like the one that elected to provide wireless in this case. Other schemes in Scotland (or maybe the same one) paid BT to do phone exchanges.
Posted by SlimJ over 10 years ago
I'm with Vfast who offer a similar service but at a cheaper price, 2mb up and down for £24.99 and 8mb up and down for £36.99. Perhaps a little pricey when you look at ADSL, but for my 2mb package I get an uncapped service meaning I can download and upload as much as I want without worrying. The service for me has been pretty reliable and better than ADSL where I live!
Posted by Isleoflewis over 10 years ago
Part 1 of 2 - MadEddieH have you checked you phone number on a site such as this to see if your line can support higher than 512kb? If con the communities(connComm for short or!!!) was that good why do you need an ADSL service aswell as shows that you dont have much faith in it either. Fair enough for a handful of people i.e photographers, web designers etc synchronous broadband would be good, but for the
Posted by Isleoflewis over 10 years ago
Part 2 of 2 - average residential user the 256kb or 478kb upload provided through ADSL would do the job as they hardly upload that much apart from the odd photos in emals, its download speeds that matter. Ive seen the same download speed if not faser on a 1MB ADSL compaired to 1MB service. Also I know of someone with a 4MB connection with & they are paying in excess of £250/month for it. Thats a joke when you can get 8MB ADSL connections for £17.99/month. So 54Mb is way off unless we all turn millionaires.
Posted by MadEddieH over 10 years ago
isleoflewis - of course I checked and like I said my line can only support 512k. The reason I have both is because I had ADSL first and have a minimum term of contract. Also you can't get 8Mb ADSL connections unless you are pretty close to the exchange.
plus the average residential user nowadays is uploading stuff to youtube, flickr, picasa etc so upload matters
Posted by MadEddieH over 10 years ago
"Ive seen the same download speed if not faser on a 1MB ADSL compaired to 1MB service."
Whereas I've seen the opposite - Connected Communities consistently has much better download speeds in my experience
Posted by digitaldales over 10 years ago
Many of the other projects at the Brussels event were also quite economical with the truth about the reality of their projects. However, there were a considerable number of projects delivering 100Mbps symmetrical AFFORDABLY to citizens and businesses, which was not apparent in ANY of the UK projects - Scottish or English. Basically, we are a very very long way behind other rural communities in the EU now and it is time to up the game. Being content with 1 or 2Mbps connectivity is not an option if we are to stay competitive as a nation - every rural area needs 100Mbps and higher as soon as.
Posted by harrisguy over 10 years ago
This organisation is ILLEGAL

Posted by MadEddieH over 10 years ago

'fraid not harrisguy.
"State subsidies for such networks are only acceptable if they address a well-defined market failure"
So given that BT basically went to the executive years back and said x amount of exchanges are not commercially viable to upgrade it counts as a market failure I would assume, so they ain't illegal in any way shape or form dude.
Posted by Skyewatcher over 10 years ago
It is good to see what people think of connected communities. I only wish we had the choice, we live in one of those communities which are out of reach of BT and as yet outside of any wireless system. I would be happy if I got 1/2mg download speeds instead of a dial-up speed of 2.2k, which I am stuck with at present. Made worse by the fact that our dialup service is very unreliable.
Posted by hefilump over 10 years ago
I find it very annoying when people complain about the price they have to pay for any kind of Broadband service.

I am in the same boat as Skyewatcher - the only difference is that I live in the southwest of England.

Here we are connected to an exchange that is too far away to provide a decent BB service (dial up is not great either) and yet we have houses 300 yards away that are getting 3- 4 MB/s.

I would quite happily pay £20 - 30 per month for any sort of BB service!
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