State-owned ferry company Caledonian MacBrayne said on Wednesday that almost half of its 200-mile long network is now live with free wi-fi — and the rest will be live by early July.
CalMac said it had taken longer than anticipated in many areas to “surmount some of the challenges presented by Scotland’s west coast geography and current transmitter infrastructure.”
Project manager Jim McKillop said: “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.”
In a statement, CalMac said the wi-fi rollout programme had gathered “rapid pace” in the last two months and, by the time installation is complete, there will be wifi available in four offices, 31 vessels and 50 ports, harbours and slipways.
“It is a welcome addition to both visitors and locals alike, especially in many remote areas where mobile signal ranges from poor to absent,” said CalMac.
“There is little 3G or 4G provision across most of the network and this new connectivity is a welcome boost to both business and pleasure travellers who can now work or communicate in real time.”
Although all ferries will have wi-fi, CalMac said there will be interruption to service on a small number of longer routes “which may require other technologies in due course to overcome the issue.”
CalMac said these are typically routes which have a larger area of open water to cross and are out of connectivity from terrestrial transmitters — for example, MV Isle of Lewis will lose its connectivity to the north of Mull until it nears Castlebay.
“We are now almost halfway through the rollout programme for CalMac public access wi-fi,” said McKillop.
“Already we have had some great feedback from communities involved and we are committed to rollout completion by early July.”
CalMac said the wi-fi rollout has had to overcome significant hurdles during planning, testing and installation.
“CalMac’s supplier was chosen as a world leader in wifi installation in remote areas, with expertise including wi-fi provision for British Armed Forces in Afghanistan,” the company said.