There are currently a number of projects which are improving the broadband speeds and mobile coverage across Argyll and Bute.
The mobile operators are working to upgrade their infrastructure within Argyll to provide widespread 4G coverage, 4G is already available in some locations including most of our main towns.
In addition to the commercial upgrades a number of other projects have helped to deliver improvements in mobile connectivity:
- The Scottish Government-led pilot project to provide mobile coverage on the Isle of Coll via a community owned mast has delivered 4G service mobile for the island with 4G and 3G services also reaching parts of Tiree and Mull. Development Coll now own the mast.
- The Vodafone Rural Open Sure Signal programme has deliver a 3G mobile phone service to sites on the Isles of Luing, Seil and Tiree as well as the community of Ormsary in Knapdale.
Got a problem with your mobile signal?
You are advised to check the coverage maps for your chosen provider before entering into a contract. However, if you have lost coverage you should contact your service provider to report the fault and find out whether you are entitled to apply for a refund of your line rental.
Contact details for the main operators are:
Webpage for information on network issues and planned maintenance
0333 300 3333
07973 100 150
0870 070 0191
Public telephone box removal or community adoption
With improvements to mobile coverage and the reduction in their use by communities, the need for public telephone boxes is also reducing,
Payphones will only be removed by BT in strict adherence to Ofcom guidelines and, where appropriate, with the consent of the local authority.
A local community which feels that is does not have a need for a phone box in their area can make a request to have it removed. It can also be adopted by them, for £1, for an alternative community use. BT will continue to supply power to the box however, future maintenance will be a matter for the new community owner.
Further information can be obtained by contacting Iain.Macinnes@argyll-bute.gov.uk or going to https://business.bt.com/campaigns/communities/adopt-a-kiosk/
Superfast broadband is spreading across Scotland and has now reached around 60% of premises in Argyll and Bute! Improving the quality of online experiences and supporting exciting new developments in internet services, it can bring a host of benefits and opportunities to both business users and home users.
- Hear about the benefits of faster broadband as experienced by the Community Broadband Scotland supported Locheilnet project.
- Read about the experience of people in Nairn.
For more information visit the Digital Scotland website including details of the benefits for businesses and home users. Digital Scotland also has a frequently asked questions section providing answers to questions such as What is superfast broadband? and My area doesn't currently have superfast broadband. When can I get it?
Where can I get Next Generation Broadband in Argyll?
To get next generation broadband you will need to order it from your internet service provider, it is currently available to some premises in the following exchange areas:
- Kilchattan Bay
- Ledaig (Benderloch)
If you are thinking of ordering next generation broadband make sure you ask your internet service provider for the estimated access line speed (an estimate of maximum speed you can expect to receive on your line) and the minimum guaranteed access line speed and then follow Digital Scotland's tips to ensure you are getting the best speed. If fibre is in your exchange area but you cannot order next generation broadband there may be a number of reasons, you can find out more from Digital Scotland.
Work has also currently ongoing in the following exchange areas:
- Achnamara, Appin, Ardentinny, Arrochar, Barbreck (Ardfern), Bowmore, Cairndow, Clachan, Clynder, Coll, Crinan, Furnace, Garelochhead, Glenbarr, Jura, Kilcreggan, Kilfinan, Kilmore, Lochgoilhead, Port Askaig, Port Charlotte, Port Ellen, Portnahaven, Rhu, Southend, Tayvallich.
- Giga Plus Argyll Community Broadband Project - Is expected to cover some premises in the following exchange areas during Summer 2016 - Aros, Barbreck (Ardfern), Colonsay, Craignure, Dervaig, Fionnphort, Jura, Kinlochspelve, Lismore, Luing, Pennyghael, Port Askaig, Tiroran and Ulva Ferry - check whether you are included via the Giga Plus Argyll Postcode Checker.
Other areas within Argyll will also be connected but coverage is not expected until later in the programme. Visit Digital Scotland's Interactive Map to see the timescale for coverage at your exchange.
* Wanted: Community Champions - Based in local communities, these fantastic volunteers help spread awareness of the benefits of fibre broadband to people in their own community, activities could be anything from telling us about a local event, distributing leaflets or highlighting the best notice boards in their local area to put up a poster, visit the Digital Scotland Community Champions webpage for further information. *
The Next Generation Broadband Delivery Projects
To address the fact that in large areas of Scotland it is not commercially viable to provide next generation broadband, three publicly funded projects have been established to help to provide the necessary infrastructure. The current indication is that around 85% of premises in Argyll and Bute will get coverage as result of the commercial, Highlands and Islands and Rest of Scotland programmes, the programmes are aiming to reach as many premises as possible.
The projects are being undertaken on a phased basis which will mean that some areas of Argyll and Bute will benefit from next generation broadband before others. Detailed survey work and planning will start to be undertaken around 6 months before an area goes live. Unfortunately it will not be possible to confirm which premises will receive next generation broadband until the go live date, you can check whether your area is live via Digital Scotland's Interactive Map.
Work has started on building the backbone, backhaul network which will bring fibre optic broadband to Argyll. A major part of this work is laying subsea cables between our peninsulas and islands, this commenced in June 2014 and was completed in November 2014. Contractors have also been installing backhaul cable on land. There will be no direct access by properties to the backhaul network.
Once this backbone structure is complete a second access network will be created which will distribute the next generation broadband to local communities. In most cases, including some exchange only lines, this will require a new green street cabinet (a digital subscriber line access multiplexer or DSLAM) where the next generation broadband will link into the existing telephone lines.
Whether your premises are able to obtain superfast broadband and the speed that you are able to receive will depend on the length of telephone line between your property and the new green cabinet (DSLAM). It is expected that premises within 1-1.5km will receive next generation broadband speeds of at least 24 megabits per second (mbps). Between 1.5km and 3km from the cabinet there could still be some improvement in speed.
If your community is outside the scope of the plans then initial modelling has indicated that it is probably not likely that next generation broadband will be provided within your exchange area within the current phase of the programme. It can be particularly difficult to provide next generation broadband for premises which are dispersed in nature or a long way from the nearest fibre enabled exchange. Community Broadband Scotland can provide assistance if you would like to seek a community solution to your local broadband.
The Highlands and Islands and Rest of Scotland programmes will not necessarily improve those areas which currently have no or very low broadband speeds. If you wish to secure improvements to your service, contact Community Broadband Scotland for further advice on delivering a community led solution or if you have broadband speeds of less than 2mbps you could be eligible for the National Satellite Broadband Scheme.
Highlands and Islands Next Generation Broadband
This is a £146 million project to rollout fibre optic broadband to communities within the Highlands and Islands. It will involve laying 800km of new land based cable, 400km of subsea cable (via 20 crossings) and 1200km of additional fibres in existing cable locations.
The project is being delivered by Highlands and Islands Enterprise and BT.
The plans will cover the Bute and Cowal, Mid Argyll, Kintyre and the Islands and the Oban, Lorn and the Isles areas and coverage of 83% (including commercial coverage by BT Openreach) is expected.
Rest of Scotland Next Generation Broadband
This is a £264.3million project to rollout fibre optic broadband to communities in those areas not covered by commercial rollout which lie outside the Highlands and Islands project.
The project is being delivered by the Scottish Government and BT.
The plans will cover the Helensburgh and Lomond area and coverage of 92% (including commercial coverage by BT Openreach) is anticipated.
Community Broadband Scotland
In those areas which are unlikely to be covered by the commercial rollout, Highlands and Islands or Rest of Scotland projects, Community Broadband Scotland can support local communities who want to investigate a community led broadband solution.
The Island of Colonsay was one of the Community Broadband Scotland pioneer projects however this has now been extended to become Giga Plus Argyll which will seek to provide next generation broadband for parts of Colonsay, Iona, Jura, Luing, Lismore, Mull, Ulva, Islay and the Criagnish Peninsula. Giga Plus Argyll have appointed a contractor and expect to deliver services by Summer 2016.
Giga Plus Argyll is not the first community organisation to provide broadband services in Argyll and Bute – Tiree Broadband is a not for profit organisation providing broadband to areas of Tiree which can’t access broadband through existing BT infrastructure.
National Satellite Broadband Scheme
This national scheme will contribute towards the equipment and installation costs of a satellite broadband connection, up to a maximum of £350, if your current broadband speed is less than 2Mbps. You will be able to choose from a range of services including options that provide speeds significantly greater than 2Mbps. Further information on how to apply and eligibility criteria can be found on the Digital Scotland website.
Finding out more information
Unfortunately we are unable to provide confirmation as to whether your property will benefit from the new infrastructure or confirm the date when faster broadband will be available in your area. Up to date information on coverage and planned rollout is available from Digital Scotland's Interactive Map or the BT Openreach When can I get fibre? webpage.
You may see activity associated with the rollout of the new technology such as contactors laying cables or installing new street cabinets, to see what is planned and when for your area and to register an interest in superfast broadband visit the Digital Scotland's Interactive Map.
You can request to be kept up to date with progress on next generation broadband by registering at Digital Scotland.
If you have a problem with your current broadband you should contact your current service provider. Ofcom provides guidance for customers when dealing with new or existing phone, broadband, TV, radio and postal services as well as specific advice for business users.
Support to develop online skills is available from
- Adult Learning provide classes across Argyll from beginners to advanced.
- Our Digital Zone who run workshops across the Highlands and Islands.
- Digital Scotland provide a searchable list of courses for online assistance.
- Highlands and Islands Enterprise lists its upcoming events including digital training sessions.
- Hello Digital is a digital demonstration and showcase facility in Inverness offering training to businesses to help them make the most of the improvements to digital infrastructure.
- Let's Get On provides details of local events and can help those that are not online.
- Scottish Enterprise events also include e-commerce training events.
- Citizens Online provide links to online resources and can provide training to local community groups.
- The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations provides links to free online training as well as a Challenge Fund which can help community organisations to enable them to digitise content, build digital networks, improve the digital skills of their members and secure equipment in order that they might continue to thrive in the digital world.
- Do More Online provides advice for businesses on starting a website, setting up social media and selling online.
If you are a business or social enterprise and would like to develop your business online you can contact Business Gateway who run regular courses in relation to website development, online trading and social media. Businesses can also register for a free Digital Health Check.
Access to Wi-Fi services are available across Argyll and Bute including at many restaurants, cafes and hotels as well as CalMac ports and ferries. Public access computers and Wi-Fi facilities are available at your local library.
Free public Wi-Fi is also available in Colquhoun Square in Helensburgh and is provided by BroadChord.
March 2016 - The Isles of Luing and Tiree are the latest to benefit from the Vodafone Rural programme.
January 2016 - Two communities within Argyll can now get 3G Vodafone service thanks to the Vodafone Rural programme, locations at Ormsary in Knapdale and the Isle of Seil were selected to receive the new equipment.
March 2015 - The Scottish Government Demonstrating Digital Pilot Mast of the Isle of Coll has gone live, 4G services are now available on the island.
February 2015 - Communities at Ardfern, Connel, Dunbeg and Ormsary are set to benefit from the Vodafone Rural scheme.
December 2014 - Communities on the isles of Luing, Seil and Tiree are set to benefit from the Vodafone Rural scheme.
July 2014 - Works have started on the new mobile mast on Coll.
March 2014 - Planning permission granted for Scottish Government pilot project on Coll.
January 2014 - We are awaiting confirmation as to which areas have been approved for new mobile phone masts in Argyll and Bute.
May 2016 - The first superfast broadband connections are now available in Connel, Kilmelford and Toward exchange areas.
March 2016 - New superfast broadband connections are now live in Balvicar and Inveraray exchange areas.
February 2016 - New superfast broadband connections are now live in Carradale and Tobermory exchange areas.
January 2016 - The first superfast broadband connections are now available in Ledaig (for Benderloch) and Strachur exchange areas.
December 2015 - The first superfast broadband connections are now available in Machrihanish, Tarbert and Tighnabruaich. New connections also available in Kilmun and Craignure.
November 2015 - The first connections in the following exchange areas are expected within six months - Ardentinny, Carradale, Clachan, Ford, Furnace, Inveraray, Kilchattan Bay, Kilmun, Machrihanish, Port Charlotte, Scarinish, Tarbert, Tighnabruaich, Tobermory, Toward
August 2015 - Contractors announced for the Giga Plus Argyll project.
August 2015 - The first premises in Campbeltown, Dunoon, Helensburgh, Lochgilphead, Rothesay and Taynuilt are now connected to the fibre network.
July 2015 - The first premises in the Dalmally exchange area are now connected to the high speed fibre network.
April 2015 - Additional coverage has been announced for Campbeltown, Dunoon, Helensburgh and Rothesay exchange areas as well as work commencing in the Clynder, Garelochhead, Kilcreggan and Rhu exchange areas.
February 2015 - Audit Scotland have published Superfast Broadband for Scotland A Progress Report which reviews activities so far on the Highlands and Islands and Rest of Scotland projects.
February 2015 - Highlands and Islands Enterprise have announced that work is commencing in the Campbeltown, Craignure, Lochgilphead and Rothesay exchange areas.
November 2014 - Digital Scotland have launched a new interactive map providing updates on the rollout of next generation broadband across Argyll - www.digitalscotland.org/whereandwhen
October 2014 - It has been confirmed that work is commencing on the Balvicar, Connel, Dalmally and Kilmleford exchange areas. The first premises in Cardross can now access next generation broadband.
August 2014 - the budget for Community Broadband Scotland has been extended to £7.5 million with the project to run until 2018.
July 2014 - Digital Scotland have confirmed that Cardross has been added to the list of locations to benefit from next generation broadband. Oban, Ledaig and Taynuilt are still expected to get coverage during 2014.
June 2014 - Speciallist cable laying ships are starting work laying subsea cables in Argyll, this is part of the fibre backbone to the main exchanges in Argyll. Further work will then be required to provide next generation broadband to local communities.
May 2014 - Next generation broadband goes live in Argyll. More than 1,500 premises in Helensburgh can now order superfast broadband.
March 2014 - Community Broadband Scotland are undertaking state aid consultation in relation to the Argyll Isles project which will aim to provide next generation broadband access to Colonsay, Luing, Iona, Jura and Lismore and parts of Mull, Islay and the Craignish Peninsula.
January 2014 - The telephone exchanges in Oban, Ledaig and Taynuilt have been confirmed as exchanges to go live in 2014 - see Digital Scotland News Release.
December 2013 – BT have confirmed the contractors who will build the sub-sea cables.
November 2013 - BT have started work on the backhaul network to deliver fibre technology to exchanges across Argyll and Bute.