Highlands & Islands

CalMac ferries wi-fi rollout to be completed 'in July'

CalMac ferry Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption CalMac announced in 2013 that it would make wi-fi available on its services

Ferry operator Caledonian MacBrayne (CalMac) said it aims to complete its rollout of free public access wi-fi on its network and fleet this summer.

The company said it has reached the halfway point in the project and hopes to finish the process in July.

In total, 88 vessels and land-based locations will be switched on.

CalMac said the rollout was taking longer than it had anticipated because of the "challenging geography" of Scotland's west coast.

A firm that was involved in providing wi-fi services to the British armed forces in Afghanistan is working with the ferry operator.

CalMac announced in 2013 that it would rollout wi-fi on its services following a campaign and petition by Barra Youth Council on the Western Isles urging the company to do so.

The first boat to go live was MV Bute on the Wemyss Bay to Rothesay route in February last year.

Image copyright MOD/PA
Image caption A company that connected British forces in Afghanistan to wi-fi services is working with CalMac

CalMac said the programme has gathered rapid pace in the last two months.

Project manager Jim McKillop said: "We are now almost halfway through the rollout programme for CalMac public access wi-fi.

"Already we have had some great feedback from communities involved and we are committed to rollout completion by early July."

Lose connectivity

Mr McKillop added: "I'd like to thank everyone for their patience throughout this project - we're under no illusion about the frustration with some of the delays which have occurred.

"But we are confident that the service which is being put in place is something which will be of significant benefit to communities and visitors alike."

CalMac said that although all vessels will eventually be equipped to offer wi-fi, there will be interruptions to services on "a small number" of longer routes.

These routes may require other technologies in due course to overcome the issue, the company said.

CalMac said these routes involved long crossings of open water and interruptions to services would affect ferries such as MV Isle of Lewis, which would lose its connectivity to the north of Mull until it nears Castlebay on Barra.

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