Bute Scoping Report, October 2013





Initial definition of project area  [see attached map]
Area 1 Kilchattan Bay and Kingarth

It is assumed that Kilchattan Bay exchange will not receive NGB from the upgrade programme. If this is confirmed then this would be first priority for Group delivery.


The main centre of population is Kilchattan Bay a small village located on the eastern side of the Isle of Bute, approximately 2 miles from its southern most tip and alongside the coast road at the foot of a steep hill called the Suidhe Bhlain (123m) which shields the village from the prevailing westerly wind. It overlooks the Firth of Clyde and the islands of Great and Little Cumbrae. The bay has a half moon form and measures about 1 1/2 miles across the mouth. The northern sandy bay being know as the Wee Bay. As well as the residential population, the village has a number of second homes and holiday rental properties, a Post Office, Stores and Cafe and St Blanes Hotel

About 1m inland of Kilchattan Bay is the hamlet of Kingarth. The dominant building is Kingarth Hotel and Restaurant with a small number of homes alongside the main road plus a few cottages/houses (9) associated in the past with farms plus 5 active farms.

The latest voter’s roll indicates 200 people in 123 households in the Kingarth parish, of which the majority will be in this area.


Target delivery date December 2014


Area 2 Remainder of Rural Bute

Most properties more than 3km from Bute exchanges (Rothesay and Kilchattan Bay) are unlikely to receive Next Generation Broadband via existing infrastructure and will only receive NGB by the development of a wireless distribution network.


This will include the area from the South western tip of Bute along the A844 road and up the western side of Bute to Scalpsie Bay, St Ninians Bay, Ettrick Bay to the northern tip of Bute. This area includes 22 farms, 1 Furniture maker, 1 Artists Gallery, 1 Village Hall, 1 Tea Room plus about 41 properties, some of which are holiday lets.


An area on the Eastern side of the north tip of Bute is also more than 3km from

Rothesay exchange and includes 2 farms, Bute Woodland Trust Forest development, a Boatyard and 3 properties. Bearing in mind the topography of the land, this area might be more economically served via any broadband development at Colintraive.


On the south eastern side of island the area from Kerrycroy Village to Kingarth is also more than 3km from Rothesay and Kilchattan Bay exchanges. The latest voter’s roll for this approximate area indicates 39 people in 24 households. The area includes Mount Stuart House, Gardens and Visitor Centre, several properties within the grounds of Mount Stuart, the village of Kerrycroy, Bute Estate Sawmill, 2 farms and 7 properties.


Target delivery date September 2015


As can be seen from the above description farming is the predominant business but tourism is the second most important industry based on the natural scenery, wildlife and historic monuments and buildings. Sporting facilities include a Golf Course and safe costal waters for sailing vessels. Tourism has helped in the development of craft industries.


The provision of NGB to the whole of rural Bute is important to sustain the future of the island and particularly to:-

  1. Facilitate the efficient operation of the agricultural industry


  1. Development of the Tourist Industry – existing and new visitor attractions/services require the provision of high speed wifi to promote and service visitor expectations. [Archaeological sites, Community Forest, Hotels, Restaurants, B&B etc]


  1. Provide Communication for other rural based industries/services [Sawmill, Artists, home workers, NHS staff etc] NGB is essential for commercial operation and skills updating.


  1. Provide communication services for residents – essential to reverse trend of rural depopulation.



Ascertain whether area is likely to benefit from Step Change

The Rothesay Exchange is likely to benefit from Step Change Programme but with limited service upgrade outside of the exchange, therefore the designated project area will see no improvement in broadband service. The Kilchattan Bay Exchange is unlikely to benefit from Step Change
Assess current broadband provision & interest in faster service (community survey)
The 50 attendees at the inaugural meeting of Bute Rural Community Broadband Group were unanimous in their condemnation of the poor or no broadband service delivered by BT. From attendees and other communications we have compiled a database of interested residents and businesses serviced by Kilchattan Bay exchange (Total number 70) and a list of properties and businesses in the additional rural area (Total 85). ( We cannot get exact information of the number of broadband customers in the area (Scottish Government don’t have information and BT says commercial in confidence). Our best information suggests that there are about 65 broadband customers  on the Kilchattan Bay exchange but no new lines are available. The database includes a few people who can not get broadband because of location and lack of capacity or want a better service before signing up.

Broadband Speed
BT says maximum speed available from the Kilchattan Bay exchange is 512kbps as it is an Exchange Activate area. BT engineer said he measured speed of 0.48Mbps at the exchange and I measure max of 0.42Mbps upload and 0.21Mbps download. Other residents provide similar information. We have reports of people within the area that cannot get satisfactory service or any service at all. Speeds decline with distance from exchange and usage level This excludes White Space experiment as this would cloud the issue as it is only available to a selected few (11). Full details of this experiment are given in the Final Report of White Space Rural Broadband Trial on the Isle of Bute TSB100912 published on 13 June 2013. The majority of the properties in the project area serviced from the Rothesay exchange get a very poor or no service.



Backhaul Options

Current:- Rothesay Exchange 3Mbps? (Microwave link may be difficult because of terrain)

Future – Rothesay Exchange after Step Change (Late 2014)
Preferred: Tap in Kilchattan Bay from undersea fibre optic cable to Rothesay.


Cost is a major factor to service the project area requires lease of 3+ uncapped business lines and is unlikely to be able to afford a more sophisticated link.

Options for a community body to take forward the project

Bute Rural Community Broadband Group was initiated 10 September 2013. Constitution attached.
Investigate potential project partners and funders

As suggested we have contacted some of CBS pilot projects with similar broadband and geographic problems and find that their funders were, Village SOS of Big Lottery Fund (Applecross) This fund I think is closed but other Lottery funding may be a possibility. Colonsay are expecting installer to make a donation and are charging a one off connection fee to subscribers.

Local Partners might be Kingarth Hotel, Mount Stuart Trust, Bute Charity Sector and   the farming community.


Future Vision


The minimum vision is to ensure the whole project area can access broadband with minimum speed of at least 4Mpbs and the main centre of population a speed of at lest 8Mpbs. Cost is an important factor particularly for Domestic consumers, hence the objective is to match costs to current BT charges. Proposed implementation date is December 2014.

The long term vision is for the whole area to have access to broadband at a speed of 30Mbps.

Bearing in mind the geographical restriction and dispersion of the population plus the age of equipment in the exchange and copper/aluminium wires it is anticipated the distribution will have to be by a series of wireless systems. A technical assessment will be necessary to determine number and location of wireless distribution points.



Bute Rural Community Broadband Group

October 2013