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Surrey project two thirds of the way to completion later in 2014
Wednesday 30 April 2014 12:36:07 by Andrew Ferguson

Surrey is distinctly a county of two halves, the more urban areas are generally inside the M25 with the rural leafy commuter belt as you head further south in the county. A newsletter update from the Superfast Surrey project includes the snippet that some 310 new fibre cabinets have gone live via the project, making fibre based broadband available to another 51,000 homes and businesses in the county.

The 51,000 figure is very close to two thirds of the expected 80,000 that are set to benefit from the project at speeds of 15 Mbps or faster which is meant to finish in 2014. We know that some exchange only areas are being given access to FTTC and there is also some native FTTP in the roll-out that seems to be addressing either EO lines in some cases or clusters where FTTC would not give decent speeds.

Our own analysis of the speeds across the county which presumes every existing street cabinet gets a fibre twin and allows for ADSL2+ services and the Virgin Media footprint is below:

Speed Estimates for Surrey with full fibre cabinet roll-out
2 Mbps or slower 1%
2 Mbps to 5 Mbps 0.5%
5 Mbps to 10 Mbps 0.8%
10 Mbps to 20 Mbps 2%
20 Mbps to 30 Mbps 0.9%
30 Mbps to 38 Mbps 10%
38 Mbps to 45 Mbps 8.9%
45 Mbps to 65 Mbps 2.2%
65 Mbps to 80 Mbps 3.3%
152 Mbps, Virgin Media cable 70%

This is the first time we have published the full speed estimate table, this ignores any FTTP deployment or Exchange Only line work, so final figures may be better or may be worse. They would be worse if some cabinets are missed out, e.g. holes left by commercial coverage. The speeds below 24 Mbps include estimates for ADSL2+ services too so should give some idea of what level of work is required to meet the 2 Meg Universal Service Commitment. Surrey appears to have lower than average amount of Exchange Only lines, we estimate around 1% of lines in the county.

The percentage of premises estimated to get a superfast broadband service (30 Mbps or faster) is 94.7%, but if we split the county between those postcodes nominally in the London region and South East region, we get a different story of 97.1% versus 90.8%. The main reason for the difference is the variation in cable coverage i.e. 79% versus 54.9%.

For those wanting to know if they can get the new services, the Superfast Surrey website does provide clusters of postcodes when a new cabinet goes live in area.

We hope if there is enough interest to try and work on identifying where FTTP is deployed across counties under the BDUK projects and to what extent Exchange Only lines see a solution that will give superfast speeds.


Posted by Dixinormous over 2 years ago
Interesting. More than interesting. With the current technology the majority of those without access to cable are limited to 38Mbps or less.

FTTC in its current form really isn't going to cut it for very long.
Posted by WWWombat over 2 years ago
Are the speed estimates made by BT's estimator, or the TBB table in the guides?

And has there been any hint of using FTTRN in Surrey?
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 2 years ago
Same distance estimates as our table, so am sure if BT ran this they'd use less pessimistic figures, i.e. less cross talk
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 2 years ago
No hint of FTTRN in the real world at all yet.

Fixing EO and the FTTP in Surrey will boost, but process becomes much more manual to figure out their impact.
Posted by mikejp over 2 years ago
Can you remind me, Andrew - is the project inside or outside the BDUK framework? If inside, the chances are that the contract will provide 'HSB' for 'a minimum' of 20% of PCP line capacity, and 51000 homes in 310 cabinets smells to me like the 'homes passed' snake oil, working out at around 164 connections per PCP? Are these 'real' available connections or theoretical ones subject to subsequent 'commercial investment' by BT as in other LA projects?
Posted by mikejp over 2 years ago
The reason I ask is that in West Sussex we appear to be getting the '20% minimum/1 card per cabinet' out of the BDUK scheme. The rest will be down to demand and BT's budget.
Posted by WWWombat over 2 years ago
Not sure why you expect an FTTC cabinet to be populated for 100% capacity from day 1. Exchanges don't get provisioned with ADSL modems for 100% capacity.

In fact the entire history of the telecoms business, fixed & mobile, is about balancing supply and demand. If you over-supply, you go bust. If you under-supply, you probably go bust too, but not as fast
Posted by WWWombat over 2 years ago
After all, 20% of lines don't want broadband, 20% are connected via Virgin, and 20%+ still prefer cheaper ADSL. No point in paying the costs associated with those properties until they start providing some income.
Posted by MCM999 over 2 years ago
@mikejp 'homes passed' snake oil
What a ridiculous comment. It is the availability that is important, not spending scarce resources on unwanted/unneeded and possibly never used line cards. BT has yet to be shown not to increase capacity when demand requires it.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 2 years ago
I would bet if a council wanted 100% line capacity at a cabinet Openreach would be willing but the price would not be nice, and also in some areas it would be wasted electronics.

As contracts stand it is down to Openreach to expand as and when demand dictates.

Even if a county had not picked BT there would have been the same issues with others.
Posted by WWWombat over 2 years ago
From reading the FAQs of the Surrey site, it is obvious that one very high priority for them is having fibre as widespread as possible, for future capability, even if it might mean they don't hit the targets right now.

And they seem to have clarified that their SF target is 94%
Posted by mikejp over 2 years ago
Well, ?chaps? - there is always the question of providing the "90%+" HSB connections the government have 'promised' - an awful lot of the lesser well-informed populace/media think that is what they are getting at the end of the spend.

Anyway, back to my question? Now that we have 'officially' abandonded 24 or 30mb as HSB, is it 51,000 real or potential connections at 15mb+?
Posted by mikejp over 2 years ago
Andrew - "As contracts stand it is down to Openreach to expand as and when demand dictates." - have you had sight of an LA contract, then? Perhaps you could post the relevant bits here? Is that a 'guaranteed' contractual obligation?
Posted by WWWombat over 2 years ago
The government haven't promised 90%+ "connections" or even 90% "capacity". However, they have promised that it will be available to 90% of the country.

No-one expects 100% of that 90% to instantly take-up the offer - which is the only time that the full amount of hardware needs to be present.

We don't even have 90% connected to the exchange-based stuff yet.
Posted by WWWombat over 2 years ago
The 51k is, of course, "passed."

Up here, the council is careful to use the right language - they tell you that the number is not just "passed" but capable of getting superfast speeds if they order.

Surrey have obviously been confused on that issue in the past. Whether they still are is another question.
Posted by WWWombat over 2 years ago
As I understand the contracts, once BT have taken the gap funding for a cabinet, then they must treat it as they would a fully-commercial cabinet, and continue to do so for at least 7 years.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 2 years ago
@wwwombat That is my understanding on behaviour

Posted by cooperfarncombe over 2 years ago
Surrey have responded to the capacity issue in the correspondence here:

No mention of 7 years? In any case, what is BT's treatment for a fully commercial cabinet. We have examples in commercial areas where capacity increases are avoided if there are just a few extra customers and poor quality line faults that prohibit FTTC broadband remain unresolved. The other issue of speed has been mishandled by Surrey, who initially promised 99.7% greater than 24Mbps. Now, Surrey talk about "access to fibre" and if pushed, admit their superfast threshold is 15Mbps.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 2 years ago
Do they say nga threshold or superfast threshold? Exact wording is key

Posted by WWWombat over 2 years ago
Yes, I've read that before. It appears that you/they (?) suffer the same miscomprehension as @mikejp does about telco deployment of equipment.

The 15Mbps thing is interesting, but, like Andrew, I suspect is another casualty of confusion over minimum speeds in busy-hour congestion rather than sync speeds.
Posted by WWWombat over 2 years ago
@cooper 2
BTW I do think it is worth making a fuss where BT fail to add capacity when an order is waiting, and capacity has run out.

But I think you dilute the problem badly, and give them an easy way to dismiss you, by making a fuss over the perfectly-normal behaviour of not dimensioning to 100% on day 1.

Pick your battles. One good documented case is worth so much more than the "and another thing..." blunderbuss.
Posted by WWWombat over 2 years ago
The 7 years stuff is a safeguard, but also mentioned in the EU approval, to make sure BT don't just stop the service.

Given that they don't get their costs back until 12-15 years, we can be pretty sure the cabs are staying a while.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 2 years ago
Kinda interesting to watch comments on a county that has perhaps another 2% of superfast to add eo+fttp and we are using pessimistic distance figures.

Posted by WWWombat over 2 years ago

It'd be good to see a breakdown of that 70% within VM coverage, and what kind of FTTC speeds they could get.
Posted by mikejp over 2 years ago
www - "As I understand the contracts, once BT have taken the gap funding for a cabinet, then they must treat it as they would a fully-commercial cabinet, and continue to do so for at least 7 years." Not quite sure what the contractual obligation on BT for a 'fully-commercial cabinet is, and to correct our obvious ignorance with your 'understanding', please provide links to the exact wording from BDUK and a typical LA contract stating the nature of the 'obligation' to save my trawling millions of pdf's?
Posted by WWWombat over 2 years ago
Sorry - can't save you the job of looking for yourself. My statement comes from memory of trawling PDFs over the last few years, and have little recollection of the many places I've found things. Try DCMS's portion of and the EU's europa website; feeding creative keyword selections into google works best.

As for a "typical" contract; I'd guess that's impossible for anyone to comply with: Even if someone could supply *one* contract, I doubt you could get hold of enough to judge what "typical" means.
Posted by mikejp over 2 years ago
www- contributions from 'your memory' are of interest but of little value. Anyone got the truth?
Posted by WWWombat over 2 years ago
Thankfully I trust my memory much more than I trust some people's unjustified (and frequently unjustifiable) spoutings.

But I only trust it because of the quality of the research I put in.

The truth in this arena is that too many people know nothing, but say a lot. While the people who do know, say nothing.

The best tool turns out to be your own research.
Posted by cooperfarncombe over 2 years ago
Wombat – this may be the document you have memorised; see paragraph 30.

Therefore, it all depends on the effectiveness of Ofcom to ensure BT play fair, but apparently only for the BDUK cabinets. The redacted Surrey CC contract does not seem to reflect this EU requirement.

Could another truth be that everyone got the runs for glory (politicians), but nobody stops to scrutinise the plan (public sector officials).
Posted by mikejp over 2 years ago
Thanks cf - I know that one well - I see no mention of any 'obligation' on BT to provide and maintain more than the BDUK contracted access.

Para 42 always makes me smile..................

Whilst I suspect a little 'tic', your 'apparent' hopes for OfCom's effectiveness are admirable.

Does the redacted contract you have seen REQUIRE BT to service increased demand and if so in what time-scale and to what percentage?
Posted by cooperfarncombe over 2 years ago
mikejp - I agree that it is hoping too much for Ofcom to enforce the clause; "In any event this process will be brought to the attention of suppliers delivering the subsidised infrastructure such that they are also motivated to ensure continued supply of the wholesale products to customers."

As far as I can see the contract does not require BT to service increased demand.
Posted by mikejp over 2 years ago
cf - I know you are well placed to observe how well the 'motivation' of BT in Surrey is progressing - do you have examples where extra 'demand' is not being matched by BT post SCC's roll-out? Is the trigger for 'upgrade' of a cabinet just one new customer over the provisioned number or what, and are you aware of any restriction (in the eyes of the mighty OfCom) on how long BT have to satisfy the new demand?

Posted by WWWombat over 2 years ago
Yes, that's one of the documents, but memorised is far too strong a word.

Para 83 is also of interest, and points out the opposite pressure on Openreach: once a cabinet has been deployed, and wholesale access opened, then it becomes accessible to the likes of Sky and TalkTalk. They can "start planning their own future investments without suffering any real competitive handicap."

If you look at it this opposite way around, the key requirement isn't to service increased demand, but is the obligation to maintain wholesale access.
Posted by WWWombat over 2 years ago
Obviously Sky & TalkTalk (and any other ISP using alternative backhaul operators) depend on Openreach increasing capacity as much as the end user does: After all, a failure/refusal to upgrade (from an end user perspective) is effectively a denial of wholesale access (from a Sky/TT perspective) - and Ofcom certainly take that seriously.

In fact, I'm sure they'd be itching to lodge a complaint at big, bad BT failing to upgrade.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 2 years ago
The same issues of capacity can arise with FTTP e.g. a property is at a later date split into flats, or a new builds in an area years after FTTP was rolled out.
Posted by hradley over 2 years ago
As the Surrey rollout proceeds a lot of discrepancy is arising on the speed that premises are achieving .This on the Hindhead exchange & I am told the problem exists elsewhere in Surrey. For premises over 1000m cable length from the Cabinet the speed falls off rapidly. Many people live much further away, we do, 1800m and we have around 12-13 download. This was only achieved after several Openreach visits . The copper cables are not in the best condition and this is making matters much worse. Upload speed is appalling - today it is 1.2 and frequently it is lower.
Posted by cooperfarncombe over 2 years ago
mikejp – There are instances in the commercial rollout area of significant delays when capacity limits are reached. These delays have occurred mainly because the tie-cable capacity is limited to 100 services in the initial installations. Cabinet 20 in Ewhurst is a good example. For a blow-by-blow account see here:
Posted by cooperfarncombe over 2 years ago
The remedy for this state of affairs is not a lot of good for end-users. BDUK fob of the EU by saying that continuation of wholesale product will be policed as part of Ofcom’s routine market review process. Among other things, Ofcom are supposed to champion the end-user. How does this arrangement help an end-user who cannot get a service in a reasonable time because of a capacity restriction? An ISP is unlikely to take up an argument with BT for a few cases and the Ofcom process is so drawn-out that the end-user is likely to get fed-up waiting for the lawyers to argue among themselves.
Posted by mikejp over 2 years ago
Thanks, cf - so we have yet to see how the 'commercial' follow-up in the BDUK scheme will work. I assume that LAs will 'hide' behind the end date for the BDUK scheme (whatever that is now... I have lost track) and by the time that arrives we will all have forgotten and wonder what happened.

Does anyone have any examples where wait times for infrastructure over and above the BDUK provided stuff are excessive?
Posted by WWWombat over 2 years ago
Just seen the blog entry that goes into more detail of the Surrey rollout. Ta Andrew
Posted by Blackmamba over 2 years ago
Hi The information is out of date plus the remarks over congestion on the Cabs eg Cards and tie pairs this is due to the low take up rate because there are maney customers not requiring SFB only on the outer fringe of the Exchange Area. As the download speeds on the post codes are determined by the ISP on which system they are on CN20 Plusnet BT Infinity CN21.
The speeds are also determined by the Market Location 1,2,3.
Posted by Blackmamba over 2 years ago
Cranleigh Exchange Area Cab 22 open for fibre direct to customer.
Posted by Blackmamba over 2 years ago
The advertising on locations and post codes it is starting to look like Surrey is going to get the target of 99.7% above 15 meg by the end of March 2015.
There is even advertising at the weekends on Super Surrey Web/page.
Posted by Blackmamba over 2 years ago
As last Thinkbroadband map has facilities that will give the customers a choice to what they want on a Post Code in referance to speed and the ISP service.
This has already showed at Churt and Hindhead Exchange Area.
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