Hey everyone, my name is Glenn MacKenzie and I live in the highlands of Scotland.
Myself and the local village currently do not have a reliable telephone link, let alone any sort of broadband. This is quite difficult for us as we are struggling to remain solvent whilst living in a remote area.
Our community is mainly made up of generations of families who have grown up here, we have many families of farmers, a shop, a pub and a primary school all within 10 miles, but with modern machinery and modern science there is less and less chance for us to catch up with the rest of the country. Some of our artisans and craftsmen relied on business in local towns but never earned enough to move away. In addition to this our nearest secondary school has recently closed and this means our children have no choice but to be home educated or sent off to boarding school. Both of these options are less than ideal.
We are in sore need of some sort of broadband for the village, else our generation will be the last to be able to stay here.
Last year we managed to get a satellite link into a nearby village hall which now serves as a sort of internet cafe. Unfortunately the cost is astronomical, the speed is really unreliable and we have very small usage limits. We approached the company providing the service about cutting a deal to supply individual houses but at up to £100 a month, it's really not something we can afford.
We have approached BT many times over the years and only recently have we ever heard back, we do not have enough households in our village and the surrounding villages to be big enough for them to replace our aluminium overhead cabling, let alone provide some sort of broadband.
So this brings me here...
None of us are particularly well educated in computers and we are likely not to qualify for any of the digital britain money as some of our villages are not even named villages, more a collection of 2-3 houses and a farm.
What we have managed to do is get around 50 families in the area to pledge £150 each towards setting up a local co-operative internet solution.
It is obvious we are not going to be able to afford a cabled solution, nor are we going to put up with the high price and flakey service of a satellite.
I have read about fixed wireless being a potential solution to our problem and it seems like we could, for very little money, set up a business which will be able to provide a decent service to our communities.
Luckily I am in London for the next few weeks and I have a free wifi in our hotel so I am able to make this contact, even to contact people here back at home is a very frustrating process.
Unfortunately though, I don't know where to start. i've spent the last 4 hours or so reading through this site and I have heard all sorts of different things, in short, what equipment and knowledge do we need to set this up?
How much would it cost and who do we pay? Once we have set up our network amongst eachother, how do we connect to the Internet? What does this cost?
Our goal is to offer something at around £25 a month, we need at least enough speed that people can surf the net, host a website for their businesses, allow remote home schooling (some sort of video conferencing?).
Added bonuses would be if it is fast enough to allow people to watch TV, as we currently only get BBC 1 and ITV in some areas (some of the higher up farms can get BBC2 and CH4 also, but some of the houses in the village don't). And perhaps something to entertain the kids.
I expect that due to all of these things being quite intense, it would be preferable if we were not to impose a limit as this is one of the things that we find we hit very easily at the hall, even with strict limits that only surfing be allowed on the computers.
The idea would be that if the co-operative becomes profitable, we would invite other communities to join us and eventually the cost of the service would decrease.
Any help in giving me pointers on where to go and what we'd need to set this up would be greatly appreciated.