Well, we have made some very real progress! Not as much as we wanted but progress nevertheless:
– the leased fibre optic line was (finally) installed and is now live – several main relays were installed at the end of August – volunteers have been trained – we started with the installations to the best of our volunteers’ availability.
BUT, due to the delay in getting our line installed, requiring time for some network testing, and the fact that our volunteers have full time day jobs and only so many hours in the day available, we are running behind on our installation schedule. We appreciate that this is frustrating for all our potential subscribers but this is after all a community project and we do not have a bunch of engineers readily at hand.
However, we made a promise and we want to keep it, so… we met with the new director of Community Broadband Scotland this week and discussed our urgent need of help with the installations. Quotes are being requested at this very moment, funding from CBS has been promised quickly enough to allow us to employ additional help to get on with the rest of the connections in the next few weeks, with the aim of having everyone up and running before the end of the year.
As was to be expected, we have also had some other issues, struggles and set-backs to deal with but we are overcoming each one and the project is moving forward. Again we ask you to bear with us because we are mostly new to this kind of enterprise and we are learning on the run. We are continuing to move forward more than we are set-back.
As we have explained to our already connected subscribers, we are still encountering teething problems and are working hard to resolve them. If you are connected and encounter issues, please let us know as soon as they happen. It helps in identifying the problem at this early stage in the network development. We are indebted to these folk for their patience and help and we hope that they will continue to feedback to us on any problems as well as on how good the system is!
What will happen in the next couple of weeks:
– move the equipment on Alcan to a different location to reduce the interference we have encountered. – move various relays within the network to a higher location to reduce the interference. – modify some of our existing relays to reduce interference. – continue connecting more customers.
In case you are wondering who is involved in these operations, I’ll give you a brief summary:
Our IT team consists of Jim & Philip who are both in full time day jobs & Killean who is a full time student. They do the configurations of the equipment, monitor the network, identify problems, resolve them where they can. This also means going up the various hills, check the equipment, replace whatever needs replacing, etc. And lately, this has not been in the best of weather conditions. These are also the guys who come up with solutions for the houses which are more difficult to connect. They work on finding solutions to make the network as resilient as possible, look at alternative locations/power sources, etc. They advise me on what needs ordering and anything else I throw at them.
The Installation team consists of Ian, Alistair & his son, Ross, and John, Killean in Ardgour and since recently also Nick who is more involved in the Gairlochy area.
These guys are venturing out in all weather conditions to try and install the cables at as many premises as they can in order to have it ready for the IT team. Again, all have full time jobs and with the daylight saving time now in place (and the horrendous weather), hours have been reduced to working during weekends to get installations done.
While some of the cabling can be fitted in little over an hour, some require more extensive work and can take up to 3 hours. Just as the IT team, they are a great bunch who just get on with the task at hand.
We also have a great team in Glenfinnan consisting of Miriam, Steve, John, Martin and Duncan who are quietly but steadily getting on with the installations in their neck of the woods.
Then there is Sandy, who keeps me going when I feel I’ve honestly had enough of it all. (which luckily does not happen too often, yet). He has a full time job and many other commitments in his free time but he helps with the proofreading and serious editing of any documentation that is required, he brings his many years of experience as a director to our team and keeps us on the right track, he keeps an eye on the finances and is basically my right hand on a wide variety of matters. He is also the man doing all the legwork in the Gairlochy to Clunes area.
AND obviously.. my hubby who, apart from helping with the cabling, keeps me sane, feeds me, drives me wherever I need to be and makes sure I DO switch off in the evening when I just want to send that one last e-mail.
And me… well, I take all the phone calls, respond to all the e-mails, try to resolve issues as quickly as I can, maintain the website/blog/facebook/newsletter, complete funding applications, meet with authorities/sponsors/customers, prepare meetings, do the book keeping, collect payments, pay the invoices, try to keep calm and anything/everything else…
So as you can see, we are a small bunch of very dedicated people who’s aim it is to keep our promise and provide you with a fast reliable broadband. We have been working relentlessly since February of this year (without a holiday or a break) and we still have a lot of work to do. . It will be worth it and we will get there with your support and patience.
I hope you can hang in there and appreciate our efforts.