The news that the Pathfinder North project that was designed to provide decent broadband connectivity between 801 council premises, libraries and schools in Highlands, Moray, Orkney Islands, Shetland Islands, Argyll and Bute has completed is good news. The project has been running since 2007 with Thus operating the project although the operator has now changed to Cable & Wireless after they bought Thus.
The geographic area covered by the project goes some way to explain the length of time to implement the project, but also serves as a warning to those looking to provide broadband to the remoter parts of the UK (or simply those where commercial operators have ignored to date). The warning being projects involving the deployment of real hardware and networks in the ground take time to build and with what may be seen by some as a large pot of money from the Universal Service Commitment fund (around £200 million) up for grabs we may find firms bidding for work, promising amazing things for very little money, then not delivering.
The Pathfinder North project delivers very little for the average resident in the areas covered, but the improvement in public internet access in libraries and council buildings will help with the provision of local government services. In the future, the various fibre networks and wireless masts may also make the take up of universal service provision easier.