Faster Pussycat, Kill! Kill!

by Julian Westaby.

There’s talk of ‘digital’ this and ‘internet’ that, thrown into every pub conversation and it’s clear it’s ‘the future’. But we reckon, when it comes to speed, we’re not even at the races.

For instance, at Dunning we pay for an Internet connection that’s ‘up to 8mbps’. We tested our speed and it was indeed ‘up to 8mbps’… it was about 5.5mbps.

Sounds okay and it’s actually enough to do most, fairly-standard office stuff. However and it’s a BIG However: If you’re going to be a LEADING Digital Economy, this is flipping hopeless.

Unfortunately in Scotland, we’re competing in a bloody inconvenient thing called the ‘Global Marketplace’. The great news here is that we’ve got a Government who have just announced an initiative and we were lucky enough to attend the launch of Interactive Scotland. If you read the self-congratulatory bumf, apparently, we’ve got a “competitive edge” in the marketplace.

Fine and we’re the biggest believers in ‘Bigging-up’ Scotland and the Scottish people, but let’s get back to that ‘However’ we mentioned earlier.

Scotland’s a small country with hills, hamlets, villages and valleys and although some of the cities are okay for connectivity, most of our wee nation is hopelessly connected when it comes to ‘T’internet’ matters. There’s some momentum and the odd new project but most of Highland Scotland is a ‘no-go zone’. With present connectivity and our cottage industry like, un-joined-up ness (technically and spiritually) Scotland’s aspirations are like wanting to own a Maserati Gransport, but knowing it’s only going to have a Fiat 500 engine.

We sort of HATE comparisons but here’s one anyway: Estonia. Most of Estonia’s population has at least 14mbps connections and lots of the citizens use ‘IPTV’ as their primary (and often only) source of TV content. There’s  also WiFi, ‘WIMAX’ and all sorts of other super- fast wireless networks, literally everywhere.

If you’ve got a laptop in Tallin, with a cheap, wee usb dongle, you could disappear into the Estonian countryside and STILL be able to stream HD content (like movies) with no trouble and no effort. They already HAVE the future. Those lucky Estonians can listen to the trolololo song anywhere , anytime, any place!

Getting back to Scotland, there are other basic areas which more than niggle us. Like the fact that the main Glasgow/Edinburgh rail link has no wifi and you can’t get a decent telephone signal in one of Scotland’s top conference hotels, the Fairmont, St Andrews. Or in parts of Edinburgh’s Royal Mile. We could go on…

We agree with all those people in the pub. The ‘Internet’ and ‘Digital’ (whatever ‘Digital’ might be) they are ARE Scotland’s future. However (it’s that word again) we  also UNDERSTAND that to make our stuff World class and REALLY give us a ‘competitive edge’, it’s going to cost a lot of dough and it will involve digging-up roads and inconveniencing people.

In spite of this, we’re actively going to be trying to do something about this. We’ll keep you informed and we’re really interested in finding out what your experiences have been. Do you think there’s VAST room for improvement, or are you quite happy? Let us know.