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Letters / Time to revisit the idea of a direct satellite link to improve broadband services

Very interested in yet another report about broadband failure for Shetland.

I have written several times before, over 23 years, about a solution, which was rejected, of course, by SIC Economic Development, SLAP – the local investment arm of the Shetland Charitable Trust and HIE, at a meeting and business presentation in the Lerwick Hotel in 1998. Seems all three still lack the imagination and business or economic development acumen they are supposed to have with our money!

The solution, especially now with the coming of the space station at Unst, is to have a direct satellite link via an earth station (receiving dish) at the space station, with localised fibre optic and/or very short distance microwave throughout Shetland.

This concept was proposed by ScotSat, (I’ll share my then business partner’s blushes – he was the brains behind it, I of course was the mouthpiece but with EU funding expertise – now no longer available to us), a locally established company with a sound business plan, to include takeover of local telephony and development of major data storage and management (nowhere safer now with sea cooled hard drive capability) and expansion of local and global IT driven businesses.

Local nepotism killed it off, even though it was tentatively supported by the then MP and by BT, who were interested in selling off the local telephony and their still disused buildings between Commercial St and Greenfield Place (see photo) as not really an income generator for them, given their global expansion and with customer service being outsourced to South Africa!

So, it is not beyond the wit and wisdom for local partners to negotiate a local benefit, as per VE wind farm with satellite launchers e.g. Lockheed Martin to cough up at least the satellite transponder space, if not local connectivity from a Unst.

This must be the 6th time I have written publicly about this since 1998. The silence has each time been deafening. Same again this time?

I’m hoping Mr Strang and partners can demonstrate the business acumen and vision, others have sadly lacked to date. I’m giving you the idea for free, although if you need the expertise my, and my then colleague’s business innovation rates are extremely reasonable.

James J Paton