41 Ardentinny households and businesses are today facing a second week without phone lines and internet access. The main telephone cable along the shore was severed by falling branches from an overhanging tree at the Ardentinny Outdoor Centre during the height of the storm which ravaged much of Scotland last Tuesday morning (3 January).
BT initially advised that the line would be reconnected on Monday (9 January) and yesterday they further advised a reconnection date of Thursday 12th January. (see update below)
All homes and businesses on the north side of the village are affected including the Outdoor Centre, Dundaraich Stables, Glenfinart Hotel and caravan site. Several small businesses including artists and crafts people derive some of their income from internet sales. The additional problem of very poor mobile communications coverage in Argyll, makes the situation even worse for the community.
A spokesperson for a company based in Ardentinny said ‘Our online business derives some 60% of its sales from overseas. Both the UK and Scottish governments are actively encouraging rural communities, such as ours, to embrace e-commerce. However, this can only be possible with a robust telecoms infrastructure in place. Fortunately, our servers are based elsewhere in the world and our system is very much automated, however it is vital that we can provide support for our customers and this has been very difficult over the past week. Mobile 3G services which we could have utilised as a back-up are patchy at best in Ardentinny. For the past 7 days our only means of relatively fast internet access has been locating a 3G signal ‘on the road’.
Michael Russell, MSP for Argyll and Bute, said “For any business or community interruption to power supplies and community ovations is a major matter. Last week’s storms were exceptional but it is I think unacceptable for BT to expect any consumer to wait 9 days for reconnection and I have made that point to the company. They have performed better elsewhere but they need to sort the Ardentinny situation now.
The mobile phone companies have been particularly poor in their response. Local customers already receive a second class service, with virtually no access anywhere in Argyll & Bute to 3G, although charges are the same as those applied elsewhere. It adds insult to injury to discover that the vast majority of O2 and Vodafone masts were out of service for most of last week, even in places where power had been restored quickly. Indeed in Tiree the mast was still inoperable from the last storm on 8th December. Mobile companies are failing the area and need to buck their ideas and services up.”
Update 15:30 Jan 10:
BT has advised us that they will endeavour to reconnect Ardentinny lines on Wednesday 11 January. We requested a comment from the BT Press Office, however as at time of publication, no communication has been received.