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Another Race to Infinity area highlights work still in progress
Tuesday 14 January 2014 11:01:31 by Andrew Ferguson

The Race To Infinity was a high profile campaign to try and gauge interest in fibre based broadband outside the areas that Openreach thought were commercially viable back in 2010. As with almost any competition there was a strong PR angle to it, but another area has popped its head up to highlight that the work in an exchange area is not complete. Back in 2013 we covered Madingley where work on the FTTP areas is still ongoing.

Whitchurch, Hampshire is the latest of the six winners to reveal that the roll-out has not been completed yet, and with Spring 2014 just a few months away the concern that some cabinets may be missed out is obviously a concern.

It is difficult to follow up on what the exact promises made through the competition were some four years later, as is the same with many corporate websites, BT moves content around and removes pages. While we have not found anything giving an absolute promise that every premise in a winning exchange area would have access to a FTTC or FTTP service, the winners do appear to feel this was promised.

Looking at the Ofcom data from 2013 for the main part of Whitchurch we find some 140 postcodes covering an estimated 1528 premises, and some 81 postcodes are able to order a service at 30 Mbps or faster. The Ofcom data also has 20 postcodes that are too small to have reliable data, or data is just missing, but it is possible that some of these are able to order a fibre based service.

Update Wednesday 15th January 2013 We have received a statement from BT on the roll-out in Whitchurch, which is believed to be the same as supplied to the BBC, we have reproduced it in full below:

"The vast majority of premises in the Whitchurch exchange area do have access to super-fast broadband as a result of the Race to Infinity Programme. The deployment in Whitchurch is at the cutting edge of our technology development and residents will benefit from a higher percentage of coverage and faster speeds than anywhere else in the country. Our Fibre To The Premises (FTTP) activity is also well under way, delivering the ultrafast speeds of up to 300Mb to residents. Work is nearly complete and we expect residents to be able to place orders within weeks.

There is one more fibre cabinet to deploy in Freefolk and this is well under way too, we expect this to be live in early March. We are aware that we have one cabinet that has already reached its capacity in the Whitchurch area, due to high take up. We are now looking at the options available to us to deploy more capacity in this area as soon as possible. There are no super-fast cabinets in Laverstoke, however, Overton exchange is being activated this quarter and some Laverstoke residents bordering Overton will be able to access this service, although these are not live at present."

Openreach/BT statement on Race To Infinity in Whitchurch

The next few months are likely to see a similar pattern across the UK, as there are other small areas of FTTP roll-out that have seen partial builds and are waiting on the final completion. In areas where native FTTP is rolled out, people have the choice of 40 Mbps, 80 Mbps at the same price as standard FTTC areas, but extra speed points of 110 Mbps, 220 Mbps and 330 Mbps will be available at a higher price. Alas the choice of retail providers for Openreach FTTP is still relatively spartan, with BT Infinity being the only big name provider, generally PlusNet will offer service but this may require a telephone call. Other providers generally seem to be stuck in a loop of calling FTTP a trial product, with Claranet SOHO being an exception.

Comments

Posted by brightd over 3 years ago
As a Whitchurch Hampshire resident I have mentioned on a number of occasions on the forums here that we are still waiting for our fibre. Most of the cabinets were upgraded to FTTC but cab 2, which covers a large number of residential properties as well as the industrial estate, is still waiting. We are (or were supposed to be) destined for FTTP. Much work has been done and is still being done, but we are still waiting nearly 2 years after the rest of the town were completed.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 3 years ago
FTTP work does seem to be only happening at the end of the commercial roll-out, particularly as they train up staff to handle fibre on demand.

If you want to email us Andrew@thinkbroadband.com I can ask for any further roll-out information/indications.
Posted by icrt over 3 years ago
brightd

most if not all of the industrial estate is served by cab3 at the top of newbury hill ...not cab 2

kingsley park, oakland road , evingar road etc are served by cab2.. not as you would expect but that is BT for ya
Posted by brightd over 3 years ago
icrt, I stand corrected. That makes me wonder why cab 2 is the one that should be getting FTTP. However, I am not complaining as long as they get their finger out and complete the deployment sometime soon.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 3 years ago
The original roll-out was more FTTP rich, so a decision was made under this competition and probably luck of the draw, or was estimated to be cheapest cab on exchange to do with FTTP.

Original roll-out was about 10% FTTP, but now under 1%, and its not just the Race To areas that are slow. Have chased up for people in other areas too.
Posted by blewbury1 over 3 years ago
In Blewbury Infinity is mostly up and running but FTTP roll-out to the final 3 streets has been stalled since April last year. Something to do with aerial fibre and unsuitable telegraph poles, apparently. We're currently chasing it through the 'Executive Level Complaints' system. On the wider question of BT's commitment, unfortunately I can assure you that they never promised 100% coverage for RTI winners - it was always hedged with "subject to availability, survey, terms and conditions".
Posted by 7marshy6 about 1 year ago
Following Jan 2013 Openreach/BT statement above re Race To Infinity in Whitchurch, here's an update from Freefolk: no superfast broadband as at October 2015. Hampshire Superfast Broadband team not interested as part of commercial roll-out. Commercial roll-out still ongoing? No idea, as no communication from BT/Openreach. Any ideas?
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