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The problem for councils where broadband coverage is good
Thursday 23 August 2012 11:16:40 by Andrew Ferguson

Berkshire appears to be a county of two halves if the registrations on the Superfast Berkshire website are to be believed in terms of coverage and speed.

A local paper and website for Bracknell is attempting to encourage residents and businesses to register throughout the Bracknell Forest Council area, but as the overlay of the council area onto a map of estimated broadband speeds shows, the vast majority of postcodes have access to reasonable speeds already. What this map does not show is that Bracknell has almost blanket coverage from Virgin Media cable services, and looking at registered speedtests many people are using Virgin Media, what is missing is FTTC from Openreach, though it is expected later this year.

Broadband Speeds in the Bracknell Forest area
Click image for larger version
Council boundary overlay by Local Government Boundary Commission
Each dot represents a postcode, green > 16 Mbps, yellow 4 to 16 Mbps and red < 4 Mbps

Of course, averages are of no comfort to the residents of areas like Binfield, Warfield, Winkfield and Cranbourne, but as with many other areas of the UK, these less populated areas run the distinct risk of still missing out on superfast as the 90% target means that many rural areas (but not all) will only receive the 2 Mbps minimum from the USC rather than the 30 Mbps and faster of others just two or three miles down the road.

Given the limited amount of funding available, councils are faced with the choice of spending perhaps £100 per property and improving broadband for hundreds of thousands, or spending £1000+ per property and only improving service for a few thousand.


Posted by camieabz about 1 year ago
If councils are making it their job to provide faster broadband, it should be for all residents. Councils (and BTw) should focus on provision of ADSL2+ as a minimum to all areas and let private funding provide FTTx for the time being.

If the slowest speeds are raised, the averages rise too.
Posted by ian72 about 1 year ago
@camieabz - most councils are only doing this because BDUK funding is available. And to use that funding they had to apply for it and the only way to get it was by rolling out "high speed" services that were beyond ADSL2+ (filling in with other technology where that was not possible). If they had gone with ADSL2+ only they wouldn't get funding so would do nothing.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) about 1 year ago
Plus ADSL2+ is of little help on the downstream for lines >48dB attenuation
Posted by Michael_Chare about 1 year ago
I would like to see Councils ensure that FTTC is enabled on all cabinets, then when FTTP on demand becomes available, faster speeds will at least be possible for those prepared to pay the connection charge.
Posted by craigbrass about 1 year ago
@camieabz: ADSL2+ upgrades are pointless at improving services for those who need it. People who get <2Mbps now will see NO benefit from an ADSL2+ upgrade and can sometimes even be worse on bad lines. FTTC is also pointless as those on <2Mbps are often long distances from cabinets. Spend large amounts of £ on the worst off getting them full FTTP to improve the final 10%. BT / Virgin Media will cover 65-70% private sector. If both sides keep spending, they will meet in the middle. Job done and the ppl who REALLY need it get it.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) about 1 year ago
Yes they will meet in the middle, but when? In the meantime those in the middle become the new digital divide .

In short still not fair.
Posted by otester about 1 year ago
Maybe the population shouldn't have voted for artificial competition & low prices at the expense of coverage/quality.
Posted by GMAN99 about 1 year ago
craig, Virgin are not expanding their footprint hardly at all so this meet in the middle might take some time!
Posted by craigbrass about 1 year ago
@Andrew: Well is it fair to start with those who already get 2-8Mbps who are in the 65/70-90% and by the time you get to the final 10% and realise there is nothing left to do anything for them with? We should start with the people worst off and work backwards...

@GMAN99: Accept that Virgin have no incentive to increase their footprint. It will be BT and new entrants that do it.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) about 1 year ago
@craigbrass So if there is no problem leaving perhaps 5 million on speeds of 2 to 8 Meg for another five years, why is there such a need to upgrade that final 2 million to more than the planned 2 Mbps?

Some authoriries are looking at more than 90% from their projects anyway.

Posted by craigbrass about 1 year ago
The alternative is the final 10% (or less in some cases) still don't get 2Mbps. One local authority has basically said the 2Mbps USC is already done because satellite is available everywhere. The final 10% have no chance unless they are served by a sustainable WISP imo. Watch out for a press release re Cumbria and WISPs over the next week ;)
Posted by camieabz about 1 year ago
@ craigbass / andrew

I appreciate that some will not benefit from ADSL2+ upgrades, but some will. It's cheaper and more realistic than FTTx for the more rural areas.

There also seems to be a fair amount of slow connections in properties which should be faster (I can see a 56 Meg connection in an area near to me, with a 0.55 Meg connection nearer to the exchange).

Some BT initiative to encourage home owners to get their connection looked at would help too.
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