Erbistock appears to be the centre of the broadband universe this week. A BT press release has announced that BT is to bring broadband to a welsh 'not-spot'. Erbistock is due to get a FTTC service from Rutland Telecom later this year, but it appears that BT Openreach is not giving up without a fight. The 80 customers in the Erbistock area will now have the chance to contact their current or prospective broadband supplier to get their line moved from the Bangor-on-Dee (Bangor ls-Y-Coed) exchange to the Overton exchange (map of the area). There is a cost to this move of around £100. No exact figure can be given as it is possible the retail broadband providers may vary the price. One downside is that the move to another exchange will necessitate a change of phone number.
The move should be relatively transparent for broadband users, as both exchanges currently only offer BT Wholesale ADSL based services. Openreach estimates connection speeds between 1Mbps and 4Mbps after the line migration should be possible.
"We have bent over backwards to find a broadband solution for Erbistock and have been exploring possible solutions for more than a year now. There have been considerable technical hurdles to overcome but we are pleased to say that we are now very close to delivering a broadband service to the community.
The proposed solution will deliver a stable copper broadband service to everyone in the village, and the open nature of our network means that local people will be able to enjoy a choice of broadband supplier and the great value deals that come with competition."Olivia Garfield, (Strategy Director) BT
While the best value deals will not be available to Erbistock customers, since there is no LLU available at the exchange, we are sure residents will be very happy to be able to start abandoning dial-up Internet access. A few months down the line, once Rutland Telecom gets its service up and running, access speeds of 20 to 40Mbps should be possible too. The big question for those in the area is whether they should wait for Rutland Telecom or order broadband now - the best recommendation would be to look for broadband with a provider who offers short one month contracts to give you a flexibility in the future. For those working from home where the company is willing to pay for the broadband, the availability of a wide range of providers can be paramount, as a firm can use their preferred broadband supplier.
We can expect to see lots of comments that BT is only doing this because of the possible competition from Rutland Telecom, and in the past similar situations were common where an area would arrange for an alternate solution to get first generation broadband to an area (e.g. wireless) and then BT would then enable the exchange for basic ADSL services. This seems to be the nature of commercial competition, a town will have no coffee shops for years, then within months of the first one opening, the usual suspects will have appeared in the High Street.
A big question now for other not and slow spot areas, is that now BT Openreach has done this once, are they willing to do it again? We doubt that a single customer would be able to request such a change of exchange, but if there are 60 to 80 lines that would benefit, perhaps something can be made to happen.