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Reality of being in the last 6% hits South Gloucestershire village
Friday 19 July 2013 17:54:06 by Andrew Ferguson

BT has appeared to confirm that a small village near the Severn Bridge in South Gloucestershire is set to be left in the broadband slow lane for some years yet, with no upgrades for the village planned either commercially or via the BDUK process.

The fate of the village was spotted by Mark over on ISPreview and is covered initially by the local newspaper. We are a little puzzled as the wording of the original article is not 100% clear whether the BT regional manager is referring to just the £2.5 billion commercial roll-out or includes the BDUK project for the area.

South Gloucestershire and Wiltshire is actually one of the handful of projects to publish their intervention maps which was put online at the time of the contract being signed in January 2013, and as you can see Elberton is just outside the intervention area.

Extract from the Wiltshire/South Gloucester Broadband Intervention Map

The question really should be what speeds the area currently gets and whether there has been a mistake in evaluating the properties. It is understand they are connected to a cabinet that Alveston which is too far for superfast speeds at around 2.4 miles, and this may be the problem the original analysis may have overlooked the cabinet to premises distance and be due a re-assessment.

The BDUK project in the area is aiming for 94% coverage of superfast services, which sounds like all but a handful of very remote areas would be service, but this actually works out as some 21,800 households that could miss out.

The problem now is does the council re-assess the area, or are intervention areas to be set in stone once the contract has been signed so that BT cannot be accused of monopolist behaviour?

Comments

Posted by herdwick over 3 years ago
Connected to Superfast enabled exchange ?
Connected to an FTTC enabled cabinet ?
State Aid Black/Grey/White ?
Posted by shaunhw over 3 years ago
It's about time telephone lines were graded according to their data capacity. Slow lines should be significantly cheaper. Perhaps that would give BT some incentive to try to upgrade them ?

After all why should people pay the same for an inferior service or product ?

It's not just about the voice capability either. Not these days.
Posted by 21again over 3 years ago
> After all why should people pay the same for an inferior service or product ?

Possibly because we are in the minority and therefore no one gives a BDUK ? :p
Posted by herdwick over 3 years ago
longer line = more copper = higher cost :-)
Posted by MCM999 over 3 years ago
>After all why should people pay the same for an inferior service or product
Perhaps because the cost of providing and servicing such lines is the same if not more than the average for all lines.
Posted by jtthedevil over 3 years ago
Perhaps because the cost of providing and servicing such lines is the same if not more than the average for all lines
longer line = more copper = higher cost :-)
So what the above posters are saying is the water, electricity and gas companies should charge according to how far you are away from source, and how much it costs to supply you? Or is it more a case of i'm all right Jack?
Posted by mdar5 over 3 years ago
I think you will find there there is no gas supply at all to many if not most villages in the UK........it was never economic to put in the pipes.
Posted by GMAN99 over 3 years ago
jtthedevil ,you do realise that gas and electricity prices are different depending where you are in the UK?

shaunhw , but it is just the voice capability that's all they were put in for and all they have to provide.

Ditch the landline go with 3G/4G or a Satellite
Posted by herdwick over 3 years ago
We all pay same line rental, irrespective of cost. Averaging, if you like. It was shaunhw who suggested a different regime. Metering data would suit me.
Posted by herdwick over 3 years ago
I just looked up a village nr me that is State Aid grey ie no BDUK intervention as it's on an FTTC enabled exchange 6km away. Village has a cab, but no FTTC. Be interesting to see if they refine the Grey boundary around enabled cabinets.
Posted by Somerset over 3 years ago
Elberton is on Thornbury cabinet 4, 3km away.
Posted by mikejp over 3 years ago
It would be unusual for a 'village' to be white/grey/black. The OMR is supposed to define 'colour' by postcode. So unless all the village is one postcode there may be different 'colours'. Exchange capability should not determine. If a postcode is 'grey' it should mean it is on someone's declared NGA plan over the next 3 years from OMR.
Posted by Somerset over 3 years ago
Thornbury cabinet 4 has FTTC.
Posted by mikejp over 3 years ago
It is concerning that the Gazette article is spouting "The upgrade is expected to see properties located in current signal blackspots enjoy speeds above 24 megabits per second (Mbps) and up to 80Mbps by 2016." which we know to be impossible as a generalisation. The problem is some people believe it.
Posted by mikejp over 3 years ago
As Mark says in the link, it will be 'interesting' to see how the LAs go about the 2mb 'guarantee' for Elberton's white bits and similar areas. I would have thought another cabinet would be a must. How the LA can mark them as a 'non-intervention' area puzzles me.
Posted by bookey over 3 years ago
The area has 4G capability, the people of Elberton should watch out for a fixed line replacement 4G service...
Posted by herdwick over 3 years ago
The village I looked at has one postcode, the shape on the map is clearly the area served by the telephone exchange which is FTTC capable but not all cabinets have a fibre twin, including the village concerned. Seems there are some issues with the granularity or accuracy of the State Aid classification in some areas.
Posted by herdwick over 3 years ago
Having played with the Northants mapping tool (by postcode) it does stray over the border and show the aforementioned village as white, although "Connecting Cambridgeshire" paints it grey on a map that looks like the above news item.
Posted by Dixinormous over 3 years ago
'The problem now is does the council re-assess the area, or are intervention areas to be set in stone once the contract has been signed so that BT cannot be accused of monopolist behaviour?'

Was this an attempt at a reposte to the perfectly accurate last paragraph of the ISPR story?

'Never the less this does open the door to the possibility of a smaller ISP (altnet) stepping in to offer an alternative network solution. Mind you history has shown that as soon as this happens then BT can take a sudden and unexpectedly renewed interest in previously neglected areas.'
Posted by pcoventry76 over 3 years ago
I'm in that area, There is a meeting about it. (at Elberton Town hall) Next Saturday. Elberton is tiny but it could be served from Thornbury which has not long been live. Pilning Exchange is too far away and that's under evaluation (my exchange)

I know the garage there where I have my car done is connected to the that Alveston cabinet but I have seen one in Elberton on a side road as you drive through from the Severn View area towards Thornbury. Alveston cab is connected to Almondsbury and that's also under review.
Posted by shaunhw over 3 years ago
RE: Phone lines and modern technology

If you had a choice between a line supporting
(1) >50 mbits/sec under VDSL or
(2) <2 mbits/sec under ADSL, both at £14.50 per month rental, which one would you choose ?

Yes I thought so. (1)
Therefore (1) has more value NOW, regardless of what it was intended for originally. The truth is that most of us don't really NEED phone lines for voice any more, so I think it's time for a rethink.
Just the way I see things.
Posted by SimonWindsor over 3 years ago
Elberton is connected to the Thornbury exchange with has been commercially enabled Fibre enabled.

The priority for BDUK has to be the exchanges in the area that for some reason where not deemed financially viable. These include Almondsbury, Falfield, Pilning, Rangeworthy and Wickwar.

Once these are done, then BDUK should look at EO lines and long lines, of which there are many!
Posted by mikejp over 3 years ago
SimonW - there is confusion over the 'benefits' of a 'fibre enabled exchange' - this is NOT required to have FTTC at a location. Too much focus has been placed on the BT 'network' of anachronistic exchanges. Fibre can come from anywhere. Innerleithen in the Borders is an ADSL only exchange yet the town has FTTC run from the neighbouring Peebles exchange.
Posted by fastman over 3 years ago
Herwdick village is serviced by an eanbled exchnage and by an FTTC enabled cab - (hoever there is not cab in village and so is fed from cab in nearby village already FTTC
Posted by SimonWindsor over 3 years ago
Thanks for the note.

I am aware that BT can enable FTTC/FTTP via remote exchanges, but in the case of Elberton its own exchange Thornbury is probably closest. The alternatives for Elberton are Pilning and Almondsbury which are part of the BDUK project.

However BT/SGC decide to address this issue, I suspect it will not be in this phase.

Posted by otester over 3 years ago
Just shows a lack of community, if they all got together and pitched in a few quid a month they could get FTTC installed with a contract.
Posted by mikejp over 3 years ago
I'm sure someone from Elburton has asked the LA 'why'? They have, haven't they?
Posted by mikejp over 3 years ago
"It is understand they are connected to a cabinet that Alveston which is too far for superfast speeds at around 2.4 miles, and this may be the problem the original analysis may have overlooked the cabinet to premises distance and be due a re-assessment."
I have just re-read your blog, Andrew this is where the confusion lies with the public. The grey/black of a postcode is determined, as far as I know, on whether there is NGA in the postcode's cabinet (ie 'passed' in BT' language) which I think you suggest there is? Speeds have nothing to do with it.
Posted by dogbark over 3 years ago
I can't see why this has made it to the news page. It seems a minority interest item. Who cares if Elberton gets fibre connected or not?
Posted by SimonWindsor over 3 years ago
On the surface I am inclined to agree, BUT, recent discussion of the ignored 10% makes this article relevant.

The recent announcements from BT, see Parliament - Public Accounts Committee, should disclose where this 10% are and hopefully allow BT and alternative suppliers to come forward.

The most interesting prospect is 4G and with the mobile firms all launching national networks in the next few months, the price of 4G should become reasonable. Also UK Broadband has a national 4G license; Councils and Communities should encourage them to enable areas with no fixed high speed coverage.
Posted by mikejp over 3 years ago
You need to know WHY the LA has branded this 'non-intervention'. If it is because Pinochio has told porkies about the HSB availability, that needs correcting. As I said before, available speed/distance from FTTC does NOT determine 'intervention' areas.

BEWARE 4G - opinion says that it can slow to a crawl when everyone tries to access it which is what will happen if it is the only source.
Posted by stanmor over 3 years ago
I suspect that Elberton and neighbouring Littleton are common examples of small villages who do not count as populous areas but are more than scattered rural households. So what level of popula tion classes as rural (counted for new service) and what as rural (tough luck)?
Incidentally I recently moved from Alveston (not yet enabled, speed about 3Mb) to Thornbury (enabled, predicted speed 11Mb). What do I get? About 3.5Mb. Plus ca change
Posted by herdwick over 3 years ago
I agree it's an early example of what will be a common problem. being connected to an FTTC enabled cabinet, or planned one, apparently makes you a no-go area for a State funded project that was never intended to provide Superfast to everyone.

The intervention areas don't all get Superfast either.
Posted by mikejp over 3 years ago
To sum it all up - it's a mess. NAO and PAC agreee?
Posted by SimonWindsor over 3 years ago
It was always going to be a mess rolling out one technology to cover all scenarios.

I have no idea what percentage of BT customers are connected to a cabinet no more that 1.5Km (guess) from their home, but if not the current commercial/BDUK rollout will not be of much use to you to receive high speed broadband.
Posted by herdwick over 3 years ago
For £50-60 per property we'll be lucky to see 100% at 2Mbits/s throughput so superfast will be a good bit below that and there will be FTTC sub-24M in the mix for some.
Posted by mikejp over 3 years ago
Yes, Simon, we know that, but don't tell the voters.
Posted by michaels_perry over 3 years ago
The assumption that most people don't need a landline for voice is seriously flawed. It assumes they use mobiles or VoIP. A great many do not use expensive mobiles and do not use VoIP either. They use their landline for all voice calls in/out of the home. For many rural communities the mobile signals are poor and reception patchy and variable. So the landline phone is used as it is not so affected. Use of VoIP requires a reasonable line with at least ADSL but again rural communities suffer because of very long distances to the exchange.
Posted by michaels_perry over 3 years ago
That's why we rural people really need fibre, meaning at least FTTC with the cabinet in our village or hamlet. And soon, please?
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 3 years ago
I have my mobile configured to redirect to my landline so when home and the SureSignal is not playing ball calls will at least find me.
Posted by WWWombat over 3 years ago
@SimonWindsor
Very roughly, the picture of the population within various distances of the cabinet looks like this:
300m - 25%
500m - 58%
700m - 75%
900m - 83%
1100m - 89%
1300m - 92%
1500m - 94%
1700m - 96%

EO lines have to be figured into those percentages too though, at an unknown volume.

Some of those longer distances are really going to depend on the addition of vectoring to get SFBB speeds.
Posted by WWWombat over 3 years ago
I'm pretty sure that postcodes still get classified as "NGA White" (ie an intervention area) where the lines are too long to get SFBB speeds on commercial FTTC cabinets. It is indeed all about the speed that you will end up with, not the mere fact of being connected to a converted cabinet.

That makes these areas candidates for BDUK funds, but no more than that. There are plenty of candidates vying for the funds that won't get them.
Posted by M_O_1 over 3 years ago
I am told by an ex BT employee that aluminium cable was used for phone lines into Elberton.
Posted by mikejp over 3 years ago
wwwombat - I believe your definition of NGA White is not correct. This is from the BDUK definitions:
NGA White area
An area is mapped as NGA white when there is no NGA broadband infrastructure and there are no plans by a private sector network operator to deliver such infrastructure within the next three years.
NGA Grey area
An area is mapped as NGA grey where only one NGA broadband network already exists or is planned to be delivered within the next three years.
Posted by mikejp over 3 years ago
Part II:
NGA Black area
An area is mapped as NGA black where two or more
NGA broadband networks already exist or are planned to be delivered in the next three years.

Note no mention of speeds, just 'network'.

M_O_1 - vast areas of the UK unfortunately have aluminium telephone cabling.
Posted by WWWombat over 3 years ago
@mikejp
I'm not sure what source you are using, but the interpretation you are using isn't taken by all BDUK projects.

EG, the June newletter for Warwickshire has a post-signing FAQ section, with this question:
"Will premises connected to exchanges already announced in the commercial roll-out but unable to benefit currently (eg. exchange only lines, cabinet not included for technical or commercial reasons or too far from an enabled cabinet), be included in this initiative?"

And an answer that yes, they could be included.

Posted by WWWombat over 3 years ago
The Coventry/Solihull/Warwickshire BDUK team is one of the best at engaging and informing the public, so that FAQ is well worth seeking out.

They also indicate that, while the maps are done at a postcode level, they recognise that telecomsinfrastructure doesn't follow postcode boundaries - and that inclusion is at a much more granular level.

Their attitude is very much that if your house cannot get SFBB speeds, then you are in a white zone. Even if that is a white zone for one.
Posted by WWWombat over 3 years ago
Here is a different BDUK definition of an NGA white area, this time from the East Riding of Yorkshire:

"An area where:
• NGA broadband services at an access (download) speed of over 24Mbps are not available at affordable prices and there are no private sector plans to deliver such services in the next three years;

or

• There is no NGA broadband infrastructure, nor any investment plans by a private sector network operator to deliver such infrastructure within the next three years."
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 3 years ago
Postcode boundaries are not meant to be totally definitive, some projects may have so far only released information to postcode level, but they are meant to look deeper, particular for rural areas where a postcode can be fairly large geographically. Or split across two cabinets.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 3 years ago
Also on the %'age connected to superfast, PAC confirmed if figure is for superfast then only lines connecting at over 24 Meg or 30 Meg (Depending on LA definition) count.

If they talk about %'age connected to fibre broadband, then the speed is not included. Small distinction oft overlooked by press but important.
Posted by mikejp over 3 years ago
www/Andrew - this is confusing - my quotes were from one LA's OMR defintions. I had assumed that the 'definitions' would be standardised by BDUK, but it appears not. Yet another cock-up which will result in a non-uniform spend of state aid across the LAs.

Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 3 years ago
On black it is generally not an issue, as the other NGA network will usually be Virgin Media who spread their cabs out so that distance is not an issue.

Where the main checking needs to be is in the grey areas.
Posted by WWWombat over 3 years ago
Cock-up in what though? And will it have a real effect anywhere?

For instance, the various county council projects will all still come back to the same BT planning people, who will know how the rules really apply, and can adapt.

Andrew's right on the fact that different LAs have different definitions for SFBB. East Yorkshire (as above) use 24Mbps as part of the definition, while Essex has the same wording, but uses 30Mbps.
Posted by BTfanboy over 3 years ago
Posted by GMAN99 11 days ago
jtthedevil ,you do realise that gas and electricity prices are different depending where you are in the UK?
Oh here he is again the bt mouth piece running to the aid of his pay masters, i suppose after this the bt directors let you sit on their pork swords and gave you a reach around for such a good tirade of bull, they have our stupid government throwing cash at them but they still manage to leave some in the crap.

note to mods i have this saved and will re post if you delete.
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