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Cornwall economy starts to show the benefits of superfast broadband
Monday 11 November 2013 13:15:55 by Andrew Ferguson

The UK broadband picture is not all the doom and gloom that you would think based on some headlines and the constant rate at which bad news headlines appear might be doing as much damage to the economy as there would be if there was no investment in better broadband beyond the commercial coverage figures.

Cornwall was ahead of the curve with the original ADSL based roll-outs and with its Superfast Cornwall project it is once more ahead of the curve. The rate of progress is such that since June 2013 the coverage has increased from 75% to 82% of premises, which given the rural nature of Cornwall is a major achievement. More impressive is that the project promised a higher proportion of FTTP and it is delivering, with 54,000 premises passed by a FTTP solution and importantly due to the way the wholesale pricing works, this costs the same to install along with the same monthly fees. The eventual goal is to push fibre based broadband to 95% of premises in Cornwall by the end of 2014 and based on what Liv Garfield and Bill Murphy said today in a briefing they are ahead of schedule on this, and also ahead of where the many BDUK project time lines say they should be.

The main interest today in a briefing at BT headquarters in London was to reveal some independent research by SERIO at Plymouth University and Buckman Associates. The research looked into whether business in Cornwall was seeing any benefit from the fibre roll-out , the research looked at 88 businesses based on random sampling and six out of ten reported that their business was growing because of the improvements brought about by the investment in Cornwall. This is not just a cosy feeling type analysis as the research looked at how many jobs had be created, or retained in the economy and a crucial aspect the UK as a whole was that export business grew by 24%, meaning that the benefits are not simply from businesses migrating from Devon and Somerset but the ability to do business on a world stage improve.

In the short presentations by several of the case study businesses it was not so much the raw download speed that was the key factor for businesses but the reliability of the fibre based connection and in particular with improved upload speeds there is less need to send plans and other media via couriers and as the fibre based coverage is so extensive the ability to work from home is greatly improved. While Openreach is criticised for its cabinet based roll-out even though businesses getting slow speeds due to distance from the cabinet are benefiting enormously when their speed is boosted from 0.5 Mbps to 15 Mbps.

The report is a mid-term evaluation, so it will be interesting to see how things develop as the coverage increases further and hopefully as more case studies are carried out it may be possible to evaluate whether FTTP for business use offers a visible benefit to the firms and the overall economy - hard proof that FTTP boosts the economy significantly more than a FTTC based roll-out would be a very strong political tool to ensure a solid long term plan was put in place for the UK.

The key now across the UK is for the various BDUK projects to be seen to start delivering and councils making sure that business and consumers are aware of the activity so that the benefits can be achieved. A final remark, we know people will say that 82% and 95% coverage is not good enough, but how many European cities can truly claim that level of coverage, let alone areas the size of Cornwall.


Posted by mikejp over 3 years ago
"with 54,000 premises passed by a FTTP solution" - are we exactly clear on what 'passed' means here? Is it a 'fudge' again like FTTC or does it really mean fibre in place along the house boundary? I suspect not.
Posted by fastman over 3 years ago
mikejp you cant fudge FTTP its either available or not
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 3 years ago
Fibre to the final manifold, so all that is needed is the customer to order a service via a retail provider.
Posted by mikejp over 3 years ago
"mikejp you cant fudge FTTP its either available or no" - now we have an undefined 'available'. Once again the word 'passed' is being mis-used to create an impression that is not correct, just like 'homes passed' with FTTC which means very little. How far from each house is the fibre manifold? Who pays for the digging, fibre and work to make the connection from manifold to house - is it a fixed charge or distance/work dependent? Is it a 'guaranteed' connection for each customer?
Posted by mikejp over 3 years ago
Andrew - are you suggesting EVERY house 'passed' will have a final manifold on its boundary?
Posted by Somerset over 3 years ago
Available to order at price list price. Simple.
Posted by Dixinormous over 3 years ago
Just as with cable it's the amount of homes that are passed by the network and can order it.

This is a standard, there's no 'fudging' here. This is how the reach of networks is expressed, by homes passed.
Posted by GMAN99 over 3 years ago
Yep, people getting hung up on "passed" again.

Available to order, simple
Posted by GMAN99 over 3 years ago
mikejp I think you are getting confused with FTTPoD which is a different install charge model
Posted by mikejp over 3 years ago
GMAN - please 'unconfuse' me, then. I am in a home that is ?'passed'? by FTTP. I don't (think I) want FTTPoD, just fibre direct to my house via my property boundary (FTTP?). What next? Am I 'demanding' fibre or just 'ordering' it? How much will it cost me and what work needs to be done?
Posted by themanstan over 3 years ago
don't bother GMAN, someone this confused won't accept that Cornwall local gov planned this out properly, negotiated hard with the EU and BT, received buckets of money and has a true working solution to a very rural county.
Kudos to Cornwall LocalGov, if only all LocalGov was as forward thinking.
Posted by fastman over 3 years ago
Mike JP if your presmise is FTTP passed you should be able to go to a checker such as / BT Wholesale and see what is avaialable at your property - this will then goive you a range of options / speeds - you check chose a Service Provider (if using the BTW checker) that can offer the service
Posted by New_Londoner over 3 years ago
How is "homes passed" being misused for FTTC? I've only ever seen it used to mean FTTC services can be ordered at that property if required, have you seen it used in a different way?
Posted by mikejp over 3 years ago
Hi L - I am assured that a 'home passed' by FTTC is not guaranteed a speedily installed 24mb+ connection, or are you saying it is, with guaranteed cabinet capacity and performance?

themanstan - I think you are confused! I have made no comment on Cornwall CCs 'results', merely on the 'BT-speak'.

So far no-one has offered a convincingly accurate definition of an FTTP home 'passed'. I always thought 'passed' meant to go 'past' something? Obviously not.

fastman - how would I know if my presmise had been 'passed'? Does someone tell me?
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 3 years ago

FTTP passed is simple and will expand on what I said earlier...

Look at the pole in Falmouth in entry the black fibre manifold is the end point and a premise is considered passed once the fibre is installed to that.

The customer is considered connected once the final fibre appointment is made to connect their home to this fibre manifold which is usually within 50m, and in the case of those streets in Falmouth was a fairly short overhead run of some perhaps 10 to 15m.
Posted by mikejp over 3 years ago
Right - it is simple! We obviously need BT and LAs to confirm they agree with you, but your understanding is that to be 'passed' by FTTP there needs to be a 'fibred' fibre manifold 'usually' within 50m of all premises 'passed'? That seems to be a lot of 'fibre manifolds' for 54,000 premises. 'New_Londoner' to confirm perhaps?
Posted by mikejp over 3 years ago
It is also pertinent to observe that the broadband roll-out in Cornall is far from representative of what the BDUK scheme will achieve. I believe a wodge of EU money went in and the scheme was 'outside' the BDUK framework?

Andrew - is your 'pole' a typical fibre node with a wide-spread roll-out or part of a trial?
Posted by gerarda over 3 years ago
I note that new Londoner has not confirmed that a home passed is one with a guaranteed 24mb service. I put a similar question to Bill Murphy and he similarly chose not to reply.

The conclusion seems to be that homes passed for FTTC is the equivalent of passing Wales when travelling from London to Edinburgh on the A1 and joins other famous broadband mis-definitions such as "unlimited" and "available".
Posted by mikejp over 3 years ago
Liv and Bill will not reply simply because they dare not.

We must, however, be grateful that the BT 'lullaby' songs about 'homes passed' have enabled LAs and BDUK to sleep peacefully in their beds. I liked your analogy! Cruel but fair :-))

One hears also that BT have 'underspent' significantly on the Cornish project - 50% of their 'predictions'. Mike Kiely where are you?

Posted by macbits2000 over 3 years ago
It just shows what can be done in a rural setting. As opposed to Durham County Council, that only manages around 25% in a county A LOT SMALLER than Cornwall.
Come on Durham CC, fingers out!
Posted by NigelGi over 3 years ago
Being someone who lives in Rural Cornwall I, and my neighbours, are very frustrated by the roll-out of Superfast Cornwall. People see this as BT rolling out service to the Rural Community, it is not! The priority has been to upgrade the existing network in urban areas.
Posted by NigelGi over 3 years ago
The FTTC solution only provides 'Superfast' Broadband within 1.5Km of the cabinet. I, and much of 'Rural' Cornwall live more than 1.5 Kms from a cabinet, enabled or not. The fact is even in Cornwall many people live in Urban centres therefore stating that they 'pass' 70% plus of 'peoples homes' gives no idea of land mass covered. Even within those 70% plus it is not possible to get statistics of those close enough to a cabinet to get 'Superfast' BB Speeds.
Posted by real_woodworm over 3 years ago
We have had fibre in our road for 18 months, but I can't have it because BT won't release it to Sky. How the hell are they even allowed to do that?
Posted by mikejp over 3 years ago
NigelGi - I hate to bring more bad news, but if you look at the table we seem to accept as 'gospel' at you will see that 1000m is a better determinant than '1.5km' which will further reduce the number of potential 24mb+ connections. Remember also that that table assumes GOOD quality copper to your house - and no aluminimum wire.
Posted by NigelGi over 3 years ago
It would be very interesting to know how many FTTC nodes exist or are planned in Cornwall. Taking that Cornwall is 3,562 Sq Km and a Node can serve 3.142 Sq Km at BB Speeds that means they would need 1,133 Nodes to cover the entire area if the were optimally placed. Maybe twice or three times that number to allow for non optimal spacing or because of some areas of more dense customers. Maybe someone can tell us how many cabinets currently exist and what percentage are or will be enabled?
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