Rigside business boss is waiting for better broadband

Fibre optic cabinet being lowered into place to expand coverage in Clydesdale this summer.
Fibre optic cabinet being lowered into place to expand coverage in Clydesdale this summer.

A businessman claims that his plan to create a new firm in jobs-hungry Rigside is under threat because he was misled about the village’s broadband coverage.

A year ago, Alex Noble and his wife moved to the village, planning to live and start a new business there.

He says they were tempted to the area by assurances that new fibre-optic cabinets being installed locally as part of a Scottish Government-funded BT Openreach scheme for rural areas would give them access to a high-speed broadband internet service.

However, Alex now claims he and many other residents have been badly let down, stating: “The reality is that a large portion of Rigside still can’t access fibre-optic lines.”

He further alleges that locals are being “fobbed off” by broadband installer Openreach and the Scottish Government about the reasons why.

“They repeat that the problem was that we had exchange-only lines, but this would be set right when the Douglas Water exchange that we are all connected to was upgraded to fibre-optics in the summer, as reported in the Gazette in June,” he said.

However, he states that his part of Rigside, near Douglas Water, has not benefited from the upgrade.

“My wife and I bought the former manse and church here, and I’m trying to start a business,” he said.

However, the internet connection is so bad it can take up to 10 minutes for an email to send with a few megabytes of attachments.

“The result is a location that is unviable to use to run any business from despite the fact we had been promised fibre was coming before we bought the property here.

“It now seems Openreach have no intention of installing it in a large part of the village.

“If you use the postcode checker provided by Openreach, it shows around half of properties can get fibre while there are no plans to connect the rest lying in the ML11 9NP postcode area.

“Residents in my area are furious they have been misled by the boasting about getting us all connected. It simply hasn’t happened.”

A spokesman for Openreach told the Gazette: “Combined with commercial coverage and build work as part of the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband project, more than 93% of homes and businesses in South Lanarkshire are able to get superfast broadband speeds above 30mbps today, according to independent website Thinkbroadband.

“More coverage is planned, and information can be found at scotlandsuperfast.com

“Most parts of Rigside have been upgraded to fibre broadband, and our records suggest the address provided can upgrade to the faster speeds available.

“We will contact Mr Noble to investigate.”

Despite Mr Noble’s comments, on Monday the Scottish Government’s Rural Economy and Connectivity Secretary, Fergus Ewing, hailed the rural rollout of superfast broadband as a success so far, pointing to the fact that communities such as Crawford are now connected.

However, he admitted that around 280,000 Scottish businesses still lacked a full service, stating: “I am aware that there are areas where there is still no superfast broadband.

“Work has started to get us there with publication of a public consultation on how best to reach 100% coverage.”