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Better broadband on the way for hamlet

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By Fiona Reid
Better broadband on the way for hamlet

IT has taken ten years and a huge community effort but residents in the Middleshaw area are on the brink of getting better broadband.

A decade ago some of those served by the Kettleholm exchange banded together to make a video about the endless faults and frustrations in telecommunications infrastructure and services.

Since then, they have been left waiting for many supposed upgrades, but say that the underlying problems of distance from the exchange, old lines, and short-lasting repairs have been a constant difficulty.

Campaigner Ruth Ritchie explained: “Despite various initiatives to improve the situation, Middleshaw was still left with broadband dropping out and highly erratic or low broadband speeds.”

Late in 2019, they started working on a Community Fibre Partnership with Openreach, through the Rural Gigabit Voucher Scheme. Ten properties participated, allowing the vouchers to cover the full cost of delivering fibre to their premises.

Then last year they formed a community interest company to contract with Openreach.

Finally, at the start of this month the fibre infrastructure installation was completed. It went live for orders last Saturday and the first connections are due within two weeks.

Ruth, who lives locally, added: “Now, after a decade pursuing a reliable internet connection in a world where this has become a vital service, we finally have access to fast, stable, rural broadband.”

She is encouraging other low speed areas in the region to consider their approach too and said: “Trying to complete school or college work, attend meetings, or work from home and so on during lockdown has been incredibly difficult with our old broadband, and many communities across Dumfries and Galloway are still struggling with this.

“We would like to encourage all rural communities suffering third world broadband, to pursue every avenue to deliver the same good connection, starting with Scottish Broadband Voucher Scheme Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband The Scottish Government‘s R100 is another way to bring us all into the digital age, and we encourage everyone to engage with Digital Scotland and their local politicians too.”

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