• United States

ISP leaves rural users cut off

Jan 30, 20063 mins
Internet Service ProvidersServers

British ISP Aramiska unexpectedly shut down services on Friday leaving customers, many in rural areas, suddenly without service.

Aramiska launched services beginning with the U.K. in 2001, using satellite technology to bring Internet access and other services to small and midsize businesses. It targeted customers in areas that did not have access to broadband technologies such as fiber or DSL.

On Friday, Aramiska posted a note on the customer care page of its Web site simply stating: “We regret to inform you that Aramiska and its services are shutting down and the company will be unable to provide you with internet access after today, 27th of January 2006.”

Calls to the company have not been answered.

Other ISPs and organizations in some regions have offered to quickly help out businesses that might be stranded by the shut down. An online forum about the Aramiska situation hosted by Community Broadband Network (CBN), an organization in the U.K. that supports initiatives that create community broadband networks, contains many offers from ISPs willing to quickly set up new service for affected users.

Scotnet, an ISP in Scotland, is offering free service for three months to former Aramiska customers, said Stuart Glendinnang, a director at Scotnet. The ISP uses DSL to deliver service. “Over the past 12 months or so the availability of ADSL broadband has become far greater across Scotland,” he said. That means that some Aramiska customers that used the satellite service because there was no alternative might now be able to get service from DSL. If DSL is available to the businesses, Scotnet expects to be able to start delivering service in three days.

Aramiska also supplied services to other ISPs, including Ehotspot, which targeted rural communities in Ireland and the U.K. Most Ehotspot customers are now without service, according to a note on the ISP’s Web page.

As many as 200 businesses and community broadband networks in the U.K. have been affected by the closure, said Malcolm Corbett, chief executive at CBN. One ISP customer of Aramiska supported 36 U.K. villages, he said.

Some U.K. regional development agencies may be able to offer some assistance to some businesses, said Corbett. In Yorkshire, for example, the economic development agency is working out a plan to try to ensure that former Aramiska customers won’t have to invest in new equipment when they switch to another provider, he said.

CBN plans to soon release a list of satellite providers in the U.K. who might be able to quickly restore service for affected customers.

While some former Aramiska customers who posted notes on the CBN forum said they suspected that Aramiska might be struggling, the shutdown, mainly due to its lack of advance warning, seems to have caught many customers by surprise. Aramiska’s Web site still lists a number of open jobs the company wishes to fill.

Aramiska offered services throughout Europe and in early 2004 became a partner in a European Commission-sponsored project designed to bring Internet access to rural areas of Europe.


Nancy Gohring is a freelance journalist who started writing about mobile phones just in time to cover the transition to digital. She's written about PCs from Hanover, cellular networks from Singapore, wireless standards from Cyprus, cloud computing from Seattle and just about any technology subject you can think of from Las Vegas. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Computerworld, Wired, the Seattle Times and other well-respected publications.

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