When we first arrived on Tiree, for about 10 days we had no landline, and for even longer no broadband. Mobile coverage in our home was almost non existent and to receive emails we had to locate a friendly hot spot – often outside someone else’s home! Still with perseverance in contacting BT – from an old style red telephone box with the door fastened by rope – and the development of much patience, we eventually acquired a landline and one of the fastest broadband connections on the island. However, for the past six weeks or more our broadband has become almost impossible to access at certain times of the day. Perhaps it is the consequence of an invasion of laptops, tablets and smartphones all wanting access to the internet at the same time.
In the 21st Century, electricity, running water and sanitation are regarded as essential utilities. For many the landline telephone is being completely replaced by the mobile phone and smartphone. In many cities smartphones operate faster than broadband on Tiree. Still, fibre-optic cabling is being laid to many of the Scottish Islands and Tiree is on the list.
Correction! We were on the list. According to the latest edition of An Tirisdeach, some fishermen (not locals) have objected to the submarine cable and Tiree has gone to the bottom of the list – there is to be enquiry to see if we are even to remain on the list.
Today, high speed digital connectivity is ranked alongside access to electricity and the other essential utilities. The island needs it and visitors have come to expect it. Life in 21st Century Scotland often necessitates access to the internet in some way or another. A telephone call to a government agency will often advise the caller to consult ‘www.anything.gov.uk’. Right now we require a reliable broadband connection and in the near future access to high speed broadband.