Angus Broadband Co-operative Limited is a community owned co-op actively pursuing a solution to bringing broadband and the developments that could accompany it to the Glens
Angus broadband Co-operative Limited has been formed as a community owned co-op to pursue the the provision of broadband service throughout the Angus Glens. Future updates on progress will be available on their website at: www.angusbroadband.coop
Apologies for the gap in updates. A lot has been achieve in the last year, much of it taking rather longer than anticipated.
Angus Broadband Co-operative Limited was formally registered with the Finacial Service Authority as an Industrial and Provident Society in May 2009. The Co-op has now taken over the work previously being done by the Broadband Group of The Angus Glens Website Management Committee.
The Broadband Group had secured agreement to use Angus Council mapping data for the development of full detailed plans for a fibre network. This work has been carried out by C-Plan Ltd. with draft plans being delivered in December 2009 and the finsihed plans in March 2010.
Angus Broadband Co-operative Limited are currently working on a publicity campaign and consultation / survey. The aim is to both generate wider awareness of the project and to gather evidence of community support for it to help in seeking funding to build the network.
Angus Broadband Co-operative Limited and Angus Council have now signed a partnership agreement which will allow Angus Council to provide support for the project.
In March we have been successful in obtaining a grant of £5,000 from Angus Rural Development. We are expecting a further grant from LEADER imminently. These together with some funds already held by the Angus Glens Website Group are sufficient to commision the initial work from C-Plan. This survey and planning work will enable us to produce detailed project plans and costings for the deployment of the fibre network.
We have agreed to form a Co-operative as an Industrial and Provident Society using the model Broadband Co-operative rules available from
Co-operativeUK. This will allow anyone in the community to join us and enable us to take forward the development of the broadband network as a community owned corporation.
Much has been taking place over the last couple of months. If we receive the expected funding we should be in a position to make significant progress in the new year.
Four members of the broadband subcommittee travel to Manchester to attend this conference, which proved to be very interesting and informative. Many of those involved nationally where present
Equally as useful as the conference sessions was the networking with people in various companies providing diverse services, from the supply of fibre optic ducts to legal services, and with members of other local groups.
We have submitted an application to the Big Lottery Investing in Ideas fund for nearly £10,000, matched by £1,000 pounds from the website funds and from Kirriemuir Landward West Communitty Council. This funding will allow us to commission C-Plan to carry out a detailed plan and survey for our broadband network, which allow us to get an accurate cost for building it. The grant will also cover the costs of setting up a suitable company or cooperative to proceed with the project and to conduct market research and publicity. We expect to hear whether we have been successful in getting this grant some time shortly before Christmas.
We have had discussion with several people on the nature of the organisation we will need to set up to develop, own and manage the broadband network. We are seeking a community owned structure with an asset "lock-in" to ensure it remains community owned.
Alan Tucker of EQ Accountants discussed setting up a company limitted by guarantee or by shares and mentioned Community Interest Companies.
Hugh Donnelly of Cooperative Development Scotland discussed setting up a coop mainly based on a company limmited by guarentee or by shares
At Next Gen 08 Shaun Fensom gave us an explanation of the advantages of setting up a coop as an Industrial and Provident Society.
We will be considering these carefully to ensure that we set up a suitable organisation for our purposes.
At this meeting were Ian Shanks who is Head of Scottish Affairs at BT, supported by an Openreach senior operational manager and one more from BT. Also present was Adrian Wooster from CBN, and Murdo Fraser MSP who ahd set up the meeting for us. We discussed issues about whether BT were planning to install optical fibre lines in the Glens area, whether they would allow us to share their ducts etc. BT made vaguely helpful sounding responses and promised to consider the matters we had raised. We later received a reply form Ian Shanks after their consideration. Duct sharing was not possible.
BT are planning £1.5 billion in rolling out fibre based broadband to 10 million UK homes by 2012. ... "commercial considerations will of course feature strongly in the decision making process" as to where the fibre will be deployed. We can reasonable assume the Angus Glens will not satisfy BT's commercial considerations. The following quote from the final paragraph sums up BT's response: "at the moment, there is nothing we[BT] can do to assist the people in the Angus Glens who are out of reach of broadband"
This does allow us to proceed with setting up our own fibre based broadband.
Six of the group attended this meeting with John at which we explained our concerns regarding the Avanti contract, in particular that being denied sight of the contract we could not tell whether Avanti were actually providing the service they should and whether the Scottish Government were receiving value for their (our) money. John said he could not see why we should not see the contract (with limited confidential bits deleted) and would discuss this with Jim Mather, the minister responsible. We also explained that we do not consider the Avanti offer to be an adequate solution to our needs and what we were planning to do. John Swinney was quite supportive of such community run schemes.
John Swinney as since sent on the Jim Mather's reply stating that we can not see the full contract but that an edited version will be published on the Broadband Reach website.
Mike and Geoff visited C-Plan at Broxburn, near Edinburgh. C-Plan are company that design and install infrastructures such as communications networks. They are very keen to be involved and could design the network, project manage the installation of the fibre possibly using local contractors for some part of the works.
Geoff Hobson, Chair Angus Glens Website Broadband Subcommittee.
In July the Scottish Governemnt announced that it had awarded the Broadband Reach Project contract to Avanti.
We have been in contact with Avanti and looked at the published details and have a number of serious concerns that whilst an improvement on the present situation it will not provide a satisfactory answer for everyone and is rather expensive for the service on offer.
In particular we have concerns about:
We have communicated our concern about the Avanti contract to the local MSPs John Swinney and Murdoch Fraser and to Jim Mather, the Scottish Goverment minister responsible for the project.
Murdo Fraser attended one of our meetings in August to hear our concerns directly. He is seeking some answers on several points from the Scottish Government.
We have a meeting with John Swinney on 12th Sept to discuss the problems with the Avanti solution.
We now have agreement in principle that we can have access to Angus Council mapping data to assist us in preparing our proposal, so that we can cost it and submit funding applications.
Murdo Fraser MSP is setting up a meeting for us to discuss with the Head of Scottish Affairs at BT to discuss what, if anything, BT will do to help our Broadband proposal.
Geoff Hobson, Chair Angus Glens Website Broadband Subcommittee.
There has been a lot of ‘behind the scenes’ activity going on regarding the Angus Glens Broadband Network since I last posted on this site.
The group have been in consultation with Emtelle, a company that provides Fibre Optic and ancillary conduits. They are very keen to provide us with the information we need in order to proceed, plus costings for the network and, eventually, the hardware. This project would represent their first Fibre supply to a Scottish network of this magnitude.
We intend to provide Network coverage over the whole of the Angus Glens (details to follow) and therefore require accurate information on the number and location of householders within the catchment area. This project has always been, and will remain, inclusive. It is hoped that Angus Council will be willing to share what they have on their database.
If anyone has been watching the Government website on how their solution to the problem is advancing, they will be aware that, although a company has been chosen to provide Broadband for rural areas, the information is still not being released. The procurement process is now well behind schedule and no updates are being posted, despite which the Government are ‘happy’ with the progress.
Letters to MSPs have been met with the usual formal replies. As yet we have not received the backing we need from these elected few.
Should you wish to help with this Community Initiative to provide 21st Century Communications for the Angus Glens, then please come along to one of our meetings.
A steering group has been set up to work at taking the idea of a community based broadband network for the Glens closer to reality.
After much discussion we took this decision as the majority of the group felt that the likely cost and quality of the minimum broadband which may be offered by the Scottish Government would not be a long term solution. The Glens would end up running at half a percent of the speed available in Dundee. It was felt that, in order not to be further left behind, we needed a more imaginative and future proof solution.
Initial approaches have been made to possible funders who have expressed a keen interest and we plan to build on the survey that we have already had done to fully explore and cost out the option of a fibre optic based service.
Our endeavour to secure decent Broadband provision in the Glens has moved on since the Feasibility Report carried out by Adrian Wooster. The Report has been delivered in Draft form and will be completed very soon.
The Government have contracted a team of Consultants to carry out a ‘verification’ exercise (to check whether the details they hold on `Clusters` are correct or not). I was not surprised to be told that details on my own group (Kingoldrum) had somehow been lost. The cut off date for any person wishing to be included in the procurement process is 18th Jan 2008, so if you have not registered with the Government by then, you will receive no help.
A small group of us went to Haddington in order to meet a Community Broadband Group that set up their own network. David Walls and Ian Smith kindly made themselves available and gave us an idea of what can be done.
They commissioned a Feasibility Study in 2004 and had 40 members signed up to a network covering 10 sq. Km by June 2005. With careful management and a dedicated team of volunteers they now have a very robust network that is generating a surplus that will allow for future expansion / upgrading. A full report in the form of a Case Study (David Walls) has been made available to us.
We got a good idea of the general Topography of the area (generally flatter with less obstacles than our situation) and the area coverage (much more compact than our overall situation but similar if we divide ourselves into manageable sub–groups). The external hardware appears to be less obtrusive than some had imagined and will have little or no impact on the surrounds.
The main factor concerning whether a Community Network is successful or not would appear to be the continuing involvement of the Community. This cannot be stressed enough! A network will only be as good as the sustained effort of those involved in managing the daily issues that will inevitably arise. Both David and Ian have put in many hours getting the Network up and running and continue to do so to keep it breathing.
The Glens Broadband Group now have more information at their disposal than the Haddington Group did prior to building their Network. What we need to do now is decide whether we are willing to commit to a sustained effort in order to proceed to the next level – Building A Network !
After the last meeting of the group in January, we have been having ongoing correspondence with the relevant parts of the Scottish Government to try and get more details on what they are able or prepared to offer.
Parallel to this we are looking further into the possibility of a community based alternative and what funding may be available.
Although the government has ruled out community options in favour of industry procurement and maintains that the funding they have is only available to those with no broadband who have registered in the correct fashion by the correct date our last meeting decided to push them to find out if there is any flexibility on either of these fronts and to find out what would be on offer to people in the Glens through the procurement exercise.
We are meeting in Memus Hall at 7pm on Thursday the 7th February in order to discuss the responses we have been getting and to see how best to carry things forward.
Mark Johnston (Chair of the Angus Glens Website management committee)
Good background information can be found on the community Broadband Network: www.broadband.coop
People who are interested in becoming involved can get in touch:
c/o Maggie Sherrit
We have awaited Adrian’s report with interest. From our discussions with him it really looks like a community based solution is not only possible, but is probably the only way to get a decent service to our remote areas.
As well as being able to download files from the internet faster we could have the possibility of cheap (free locally) telephone services, tv (pay, freeview and local), medical monitoring/care, business support and development, mobile phone service and much more.
The limits are not so much on the technology but on our individual and collective imaginations and effort (not forgetting initial funding).
Please get in touch through the website if you have any comments, want to know more or are interested in getting involved.
Much of the Angus Glens has no broadband access and little prospect of it coming any time soon. We are stuck with very slow dial-up which can be badly effected by wet weather when the dampness gets into the repairs in the copper wire leading to our homes. The Scottish Executive have promised money to help isolated clusters of houses get broadband however this is only available for places with no broadband connection. Those with very poor and intermittent broadband will not be able to make use of this funding but may be able to benefit from buying into local solutions once they are up and running.
Several people from the Glens have been to events held to publicise the proposed funding and to help the Executive to collect data on areas with no broadband. We were told that communities need to gather information on clusters with no broadband and forward that to the executive who are looking at how to best spend the money and many people have worked hard to do this. In the Glens we have several clusters. Some areas are well down the path towards going ahead with innovative solutions whilst others are barely started.
It looks like the only scheme that will be government funded will be BT or another provider giving a slow, basic service at a higher cost than the current market rate and no improvements to people with a poor service.
There is an interest in a community solution which will involve getting a good broadband signal to one house (via BT wires or satellite) and then small transmitters/receivers on people's buildings to carry the signal from house to house. This requires line of site between buildings and cooperation between householders. It would be several times faster than broadband from small rural exchanges and could work out quite cost effective. The funding would pay for the cost of equipment and setting up, running costs would be met locally. Community involvement could both lower the costs and make alterations easier - including providing a better service to thos with a poor connection.
It was felt that rather than waiting to see what the government will be offering we should go ahead and research the costs and alternatives so that we can keep our funding options open and be ready to move the project on as soon as possible.
Maggie Sherrit (Community Learning & Development)