StrathspeyNow – October 2021 Update
Our plans to deliver a gigabit-capable broadband network have taken a significant step forward. We have just held a series of open sessions with Q&A – delivered at The Grant Arms in Grantown on Spey – to explain our progress. Thank you to all who attended. This is the promised follow up …
There were many great questions posed at our open sessions …
“Can I get a connection?” As we explained to all present, your property may be eligible for funding support to help with connecting your premises to better broadband. Destination Digital’s delivery partner – TransmitAir Ltd – is registered as a supplier to the Scottish Broadband Voucher Scheme (SBVS). The scheme is designed to provide funding for Broadband Connectivity to homes and businesses who currently receive less than 30Mbps. We were able to help some home owners there and then. You can check eligibility for funding here. If you are eligible, you can click on this link to register with StrathspeyNow and we will be back in touch as soon as possible regarding the ‘next steps’. If you would rather we run a check for you, we are happy to help. Simply click here to message our delivery team and they will respond as soon as possible.
“At the meeting you mentioned you are using Laggan mast: when will that come on stream and when will you be able to connect people?” We anticipate this being before the end of 2021: we are signing contracts for the fibre provision as well as for the mast. We remain reliant on the owners of those sites/assets – and on their timetable. They are aware of our desire to progress as soon as is practicable.
“You have explained it is line of sight for wireless connectivity. What if my property is not within line of sight?” As long as you have registered with us, TransmitAir’s technicians can visit your property as part of our ‘survey and install’ service. We will have ascertained whether you are eligible for any grant funding. If so, we will advise that the funding is triggered and we can help in that process. Regardless of the funding, if you are committed to proceed, our ‘survey and install’ will assess your property’s connection and – if we can connect at the speed you have requested, we will install and get you live. If we cannot connect you, our technicians will tell you and there is no cost obligation for you. We may well be able to advise on alternatives depending on your location.
“We are unclear what the next steps are for those of us who are located outside Grantown and what the timelines are. Is there more information to share?” We told the Open Sessions that Grantown is our Phase 1 hub. The nature of the network means we have to have an initial critical mass to start building the network. All is demand led. If the demand exists, we can build more – and faster. If it is not – that will not happen. Our aspiration – based on the information we have – is to start connecting people to the Grantown Phase One before or very soon after Christmas 2021. Building out from Grantown, we will then be looking at ‘community clusters’ to expand the network. We will be promoting the service to those communities and encouraging more to register. When they do, we will be able to advise on 2nd, 3rd and 4th phases – and so on. We would expect to have that timeable in place by the end of this year.
“How does the broadband voucher work? Does it all go to TransmitAir when establishing the initial system?” If your property is eligible for a voucher, we will let you know. The Scottish Government will then contact you and ask if you wish to proceed. Once you say yes, we can proceed. The voucher covers the costs to enable your property to connect to the network. That work is undertaken by Rapier Systems / TransmitAir. Only when we know we can connect you will the service be offered through TransmitAir. The voucher covers the equipment costs to enable the connection. The connection itself is then subject to an ongoing contract with TransmitAir.
“Can you expand on who ‘Strathspey Connected’ are? Do you have a website with details of staff, management etc? Or is everything done via TransmitAir?” StrathspeyNow is our project name. It is delivered by Destination Digital – a company that combines the services of Destination66 Ltd and Rapier Systems. TransmitAir is our internet service provider.
“Are download and upload speeds affected by the amount of traffic at peak times? Can high demand compromise bandwidth and download speeds in your system?” Speeds of the connection we provide are not affected by busy periods or demand. However, as explained at the sessions, the speed of the internet and the sites you are visiting could well be affected subject to the demand on their servies. This is not something any ISP can control.
“Living in the snowiest part of the country (particularly after the experience of last winter) – snow does not affect the signal coming down copper wire, so it is a concern if switching to this new system. Can you offer some reassurance on the ability of the system to deliver during snowfall?” Heavy rain or snow can affect wireless transmission, however we build tolerance into the system to cope with this. If snow manages to build up on the antenna, you may experience an outage (similar to Sky TV). In this instance, if the snow can be brushed away (taking care not to damage the antenna) or the snow melts in time, the signal will return.
“Does this offer depend on using the existing broadband cabling, or is there a fibre-optic option?” Our service doesn’t use existing broadband / phone cabling. An antenna will be fitted to the exterior of your property from which a small cable will be installed to the inside, where a conventional-looking broadband router will be installed – similar to what you might expect from BT, Sky etc. This router will provide coverage in the normal way. You will also be able to plug a standard home phone into this router, if you take our phone service (at additional cost).
“The phone services you mentioned in the presentation including pricing, etc., are not included on the FAQs. Can you share?” For an additional £10.00 per calendar month you will get unlimited calls to 01, 02, 03 and UK mobile numbers.
“What if we like to switch from BT to your service? Can I keep my telephone line and will it use voice over IP so no extra costs other then 1 x transfer from BT to you? Is it connected through satellite?” Our telephone service is available using our technology and you can keep your existing handset and number; however you will not be using your existing telephone line. As above, the cost for the service is £10.00 per month and this allows you to make unlimited calls to UK landline and mobiles with 01, 02, 03 and 07 dialling codes. There is also a one-off fee of £25.00 should you wish to keep your existing phone number. The service does not use satellite.
“Many homes and businesses in the Strath will, eventually, be the recipients of fibre-optic cable. When these premises get fibre-optic and no longer want the service you are providing, will there be a charge for removal of your hardware from premises?” We won’t charge to remove our equipment, unless you ask us to remove it.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
The TransmitAir site is already populated with many answers to questions we have received to date. Simply click on the following and that will take you to the site where you will find more. If you have any further questions, please click here to message TransmitAir and one of their knowledgeable team will respond as soon as they are able.
Community first …
At our Grantown presentations, we explained to all that our service is different from every other broadband provider: it is a bold statement, but true. Why are we different?
StrathspeyNow is borne out of more than four years of research and development following our appointment at consultants on the Scottish Government & Digital Scotland’s Digital Towns Programme 2017-18. In that programme, Grantown was one of around 40 towns across Scotland who sought advice on how the community might may better use of ‘digital’.
Long story short: our findings review (2018) made recommendations for a new model that would deliver the benefits sought by those communities. We were tasked with finding a demonstration project to prove our concept. We did – Cupar in Fife. It was put to the test and, in a ballot of businesses in 2019, it was voted through to deliver a five year terms as Scotland and the UK’s only Digital Improvement District.
Today, that project is delivering managed, integrated digital communication in support of multiple audiences – businesses, residents, visitors, community groups, culture & tourism bodies, education and training providers, environmental projects, health & social care partnership … all working together to aid economic development and sustainability. The delivery is award-winning and much more can be read via our recently published 2021 Q3 report (available via this link).
Can that be done again? There is no political will or appetite to do so and the project – which took close to 100 weeks to the ballot – would have stopped had the businesses voted against it. The timescales are too long, the risks are too great … and the reliance on a single sector to pay for all services is too one-sided.
So we are looking at different funding models to deliver the same community benefit – albeit in a scale that reflects the place and community.
Destination Digital is a collaboration of businesses. We are very grateful to the Grantown Society for their support to date. The Society has been a key driver in this project and they have assisted in the research that is helping us to develop what we see as a unique model – a gigabit-capable broadband network, delivered wirelessly, that will not only offer customers superfast, ultrafast, hyperfast and gigabit speeds of connectivity but will also reinvest in the Strathspey community.
Alongside our network, from the Spring of 2022, we will look to deliver managed, integrated digital communication and services that will support multiple audiences across Strathspey – all akin to our Cupar initiative … businesses, community groups, culture & tourism, education & training, environmental projects as well as wellbeing support.
Through our managed channels we will share relevant and engaging content with our growing audience of residents and visitors. The scale of that support will be determined 100% by the numbers signing up to the service: the more who sign-up, the more we will be able to deliver.
StrathspeyNow is your community’s network.
Up is the new Down …
For more than a decade, broadband offerings have been defined by their download speeds – with 30MB per second deemed as ‘superfast’. The unprecedented times 2020/21 have taught us that we all need more access to better connectivity. As more people create greater levels of content for sharing, the need for improved upload speeds increases.
And so ‘superfast’ will be our basic offering and we won’t just focus on download speeds. Our packages will offer significantly higher speeds ensuring whatever download speed you buy, we will provide a third of that speed as the upload: 30MB down? 10MB up. Need 60MB download? We’ll provide it with 20MB upload … and so on across all our StrathspeyNow packages.
Environmentally friendly …
We work with wireless delivery. Anchored to fibre at key points, our gigabit-capable broadband is then delivered wirelessly with minimal environmental disruption.
Gone are the needs for costly, time-consuming digging of roads, streets, pathways and driveways. Our service means we can connect more people more swiftly – all with a lower impact on our environment. As much of the area we are covering falls within the National Park, that is a real benefit to all. Our wireless delivery also means that we do not rely on existing phone lines. We can offer phone services where your existing phone handset is connected to our network. This was explained in some detail at our Grantown event, but please ask for more information when making your enquiry.
Our pricing …
We have created simple packages (below) enabling customers to choose the right package to deliver the right level of connectivity. Each is priced per calendar month and includes VAT as well as your dedicated router with built-in Wi-Fi. As was explained at our open sessions, what we deliver will be the speed you pay for … if our technicians do not believe your property can be serviced at the desired level, we will tell you and you will not pay for anything we cannot deliver.
Thanks for reading.