Bringing broadband to the valley

Peat Law, as seen from the Three Brethren. A Duns telecommunications company is planning to install one or two radar masts to provide broadband to the Yarrow Valley.
Peat Law, as seen from the Three Brethren. A Duns telecommunications company is planning to install one or two radar masts to provide broadband to the Yarrow Valley.

A Borders company is hoping to provide fast, low-cost broadband to communities in the Yarrow Valley by installing a 4m-high relay on Peat Law, near the Three Brethren.

Borderlink, based near Duns, was launched two years ago by managing director Alex Cacciamani, who made his presentation at Selkirk Community Council’s Monday night meeting this week.

Introducing Mr Cacciamani to councillors, chairman Alastair Pattullo said he had been approached by businesses in Ettrick Road on the outskirts of the town as they were struggling to get a decent broadband connection, and that Borderlink could be the answer.

Mr Cacciamani said his business began through residents’ and businesses’ need for broadband access in Duns, and it “grew organically from there”.

He said the company now delivers gigabit broadband to much of the Scottish Borders and North Northumberland, using its own state-of-the-art wireless radio technology to beam the service straight to where it was required, without even needing a phone line.

He said: “We would like to establish a small relay on Peat Law, which would be 3-4m in height and it would not break the horizon.

“The cost would be around £35 per month to users, and the installation, which is subsidised by the government – which most people in the valley would be eligble for – costs around £230-300.”

New community councillor Sue Bremner asked: “Who would be maintaining the relays, and would they withstand the weather?”

Mr Cacciamani replied: “We would maintian it. There are not many hills we can’t reach and open access to the relays would be a part of the agreement.

“But during the beast from the east, we lost only two antennas out of a total of 1,600 and we had no outages.”

The proposal was widely welcomed by those at the meeting, although there were some who relayed concerns.

Community councillor Ian King warned: “Remember that this is a sensitive environmental area, so you will have to be careful not to overstep the mark.

“The top of Peat Law is something which is very important to the local community.”

And member of the public Cath Henderson said: “How close will this be to the North Marches route for the Common Riding? Because it simply can’t be on it or near it.”

Mr Pattullo said another mast had already been installed next to the route, which has not affected the ride-out.

Councillor Gordon Edgar asked: “Could you piggyback the signal from the existing mast at the woods?”

Mr Cacciamani explained: “We could, but it would be pretty expensive for us and we would have to pass the extra cost on to our customers.”