The joy of the commercial roll-out for BT was that it was able to pick and choose where to invest its money, the same as Virgin Media and any other commercial operator. Alas as the main commercial roll-out is nearing its end virtually every area that will be covered under those terms has a Ready for Service date (RFS). Those who have missed out from the commercial programme and with no clear sign that the BDUK process is going to help them are starting to shout louder.
One area that has hit the headlines before is a new build estate that has been growing for some ten years and that is Haydon Wick in North Swindon. The area does have ADSL2+ but the main exchange has not been upgraded to provide wholesale access to superfast broadband. To try and force BT to change their mind there is a petition underway to convince BT there is enough commercial interest, to date this has attracted over 270 signatures on its way to an eventual goal of 1,000.
There are some interesting snippets in the Wiltshire press, particularly that BT believes the area serves some 1,200 homes. Our figures put the number of homes on the Haydon Wick exchange at over 6,000 and if all 17 cabinets were enabled 90% would get a superfast service and even with our fairly pessimistic estimates the slowest FTTC service would be 5 Mbps. There would be around 250 properties stuck on Exchange Only lines that would need extra work. Our bet is not that BT has the exchanges confused, but that the data in its planning database is out of date and needs updating.
BT has been known to get its estimates wrong before, with a handful of areas running successful campaigns to wake them up to commercial levels of demand. One option used to be NOW Wireless Broadband service, but the website appears to be not offering the service for sale anymore and is just exists as a portal for existing customers. The rest of Swindon already has an extensive Virgin Media coverage, so one has to wonder what demands Virgin Media made of the developer for the developer to not embrace the cable option, or why the developer has not directly approached Openreach.
The Wiltshire BDUK project has not announced anything about Haydon Wick yet and with the poor state of the maps for that project it is impossible to tell if this area of Swindow is in the scope of the project or not. This should please the rural campaigners who feel that the BDUK process is just bringing better broadband to those who can already get decent speeds.