Full speed ahead for West Scotland ferry operator’s Wi-Fi network rollout
Written by: Sam Fenwick | Published:
Free public Wi-Fi is now available around the port area on Colonsay, an island in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland

Caledonian MacBrayne (CalMac), a ferry operator serving Scotland’s western seaboard and the Hebrides, has announced that almost half of its 200-mile long network is now live with free public access Wi-Fi, with the remainder to be completed in early July. In total, 88 vessels and land-based locations will gain Wi-Fi access.

The first vessel to go live was MV Bute on the Wemyss Bay to Rothesay route in February last year, with Rothesay becoming the first port to benefit.

The programme has gathered rapid pace in the last two months and, by the time installation is complete, there will be Wi-Fi available in four offices, 31 vessels and 50 ports, harbours and slipways.

There is little 3G or 4G provision across most of the network, making the extra connectivity a welcome boost for both business and pleasure travellers.

"We are now almost halfway through the rollout programme for CalMac public access Wi-Fi," said project manager Jim McKillop. "Already we have had some great feedback from communities involved and we are committed to rollout completion by early July.

"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."

A small number of longer routes may require other technologies to overcome some interruptions to Wi-Fi service. These are typically routes which have a protracted area of open water to cross and are out of connectivity from terrestrial transmitters - for example, the MV Isle of Lewis ferry will lose its connectivity to the north of Mull until it nears Castlebay.

The project has overcome significant hurdles during planning, testing and installation. CalMac's supplier was chosen for its experience in carrying out Wi-Fi installations in remote areas, having provided Wi-Fi to the British Armed Forces in Afghanistan. But it has taken longer than anticipated in many areas to surmount some of the challenges presented by Scotland's west coast geography and current transmitter infrastructure.

More information about the roll out programme can be found here

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