- 3 Jun 08, 10:37 GMT
Our Broadband Britain tour is underway - and we're in Arnisdale, an idyllic village in the North West of Scotland. This is one of the few places where BT will still not supply a broadband connection - it is nine miles from the nearest exchange in Glenelg, and the copper cable just won't bring the signal that far.
But if you want to know just how important a service broadband has become, this is a great place to come. The people here have been making an ever louder clamour about their desperate need for a faster connection.
People like Rick Rohde, Anna MacKenzie and Jenny Munro. They all work from their homes in this remote community, where a trip to the supermarket means a two hour round trip. Rick, an American who settled here as a crofter thirty years ago, is now an academic working with colleagues in South Africa. Jenny is a graphics designer who needs to send and receive large files. And Jenny, who trains health workers, needs to keep in constant touch with colleagues across Scotland.
They have all gone to extraordinary lengths to get connected, Rick sailing across the loch just to pick up his e-mail, Jenny driving nine miles along a steep and narrow road to her mother-in-law's house just to send e-mails, Anna having to make a similar journey with her graphics files.
But broadband is now coming to Arnisdale through something called the Tegola project. It's a kind of home-brewed concoction, beamed to a series of masts around Arnisdale from a college on the Isle of Skye. But this is not a commercial operation - it is funded by Edinburgh University and the University of the Highlands and Islands, and, by the sound of it, would be pretty pricey if sold to residents at a realistic rate.
What it does deliver is pretty scorching speeds - downloads at up to 10Mbps, and pretty fast uploads too. I sat directly next to one of the masts, and managed to download the 10Mb test file we have placed on this website in just 16 seconds, a new personal best.
By contrast, back in Glenelg, I used the hotel's BT broadband connection, and it took over four minutes to download the same file. By the way, do try this at home - and map your results for us.
There is a Scottish government plan to bring broadband to places like Arnisdale by next Christmas, probably using similar technology to the Tegola project, with a few really remote homes being served by satellite. But even when that arrives, you can bet that the people here will soon be looking with envy at the 20 or 50Mbps connections that are going to be available in some other parts of Britain.
So what have we learned on day one? That just because you live in the middle of nowhere your need - or desire - for speed is no less than that of someone living in a humming metropolis. And that satisfying the desire for ever faster internet connections right across the UK will be a challenging and expensive undertaking, with pressure on everyone from BT to local government to put their hands in their pockets.
Later today, we start driving to Dundee for a glimpse of our high fibre future. And, after a couple of days in stunningly beautiful surroundings, only marred by a dearth of mobile phone and broadband connections, it will be quite a relief to be able to get online with ease once more.
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