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Policy needs to focus on individual properties NOT postcode
Friday 20 June 2014 11:46:10 by Andrew Ferguson

The news of the extra funding for the broadband test projects for the most rural parts of the UK has been almost universally welcomed, even if there is hardly any FTTH involved which many vocal campaigners have called for investment in for over a decade. The big problem facing these new pilots and the existing BDUK projects is mapping and how postcode data is handled.

While Margaret Hodge of the Public Accounts Committee hammered on about postcodes and we have the new BDUK CEO about to put pressure on the BDUK projects to release data right down to the full postcode level (e.g AB12 3CD) we have seen time and time again that postcode information while useful is only part of the story.

The reason is that a postcode usually identifies a collection of buildings, e.g. one side of a small street or in rural areas properties may be spread out over several hundred metres. The telecoms infrastructure does not adhere to these notional boundaries, it is very common to have a postcode served by two or more Openreach street cabinets, or due to geography half a postcode gets a mobile signal and the other not.

If the councils were to all release postcode data in a basic CSV format, and let people like thinkbroadband and others map it and assist with explaining the various caveats this would be a vast improvement. As things stand at the moment there we do a lot of work to help people understand the roll-out in their area and helping them to understand why they appear to have missed out in the roll-outs so far, e.g. exchange only lines or a very small cabinet representing poor value for money. Part of the evidence from this work we do is when we provide estimates of superfast coverage for areas.

So while the full postcode data will be an improvement what is actually needed is the extra information on which properties will be covered, plus whether a postcode is awaiting review, rejected and thus outside project scope or likely to get a service deployed and the service type. Of course a major problem is that the projects are working in phases and trying to ensure value for money by generally gap funding the largest of the cabinets missed out from the commercial roll-out.


Posted by Jen1 over 2 years ago
Postcode level data is freely available via - as part of Codepoint Open.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 2 years ago
Postcode data is freely available but it is the way that BT telephone lines run within the postcodes and what is planned or not planned that is the missing link.

Posted by cen8wfw over 2 years ago
I live in a rural location where my cabinet has been upgraded to FTTC. BT Wholesales own line checked stated that the speed we would get would be around 25mb... The bad news is that I can only get 5mb! Hardly super fast broadband. The issue is that we're 1.6km from the cabinet. Even after Openreach investigations confirmed 5mb is the line limit BT's line checker is still out of date. If BT Wholesales data at line level is inaccurate, how can postcode level data possibly be correct!!
Posted by mikejp over 2 years ago
Posted this yesterday by mistake on the 'Surrey' thread!

I would have thought a start would be to publish cabinets as they are/about to be 'fibred' via P Councils so the great unwashed can see if theirs is on the list. Saves an enormous amount of frigging around with propeties/post codes when Joe P can do that himself and removes most of the 'unknowns'. This, of course, assunes that the LA's actually know what their money is being spent on and are not just feeding the cash cow.
Posted by mikejp over 2 years ago
cen8 - the wholesale checker has been notoriously incorrect in the past with ADSL and there is little appetite for anyone to put it right. It appears wildly optimistic on some longer lines and does not seem to analyse line condition, hence the 'wait and see' caveats.
Posted by martingriffin over 2 years ago
Down to property level is essential as many in the rural community will again be missed out by the BDUK Extension Programme. The UK Government published a document called: Executive Summary of Britain’s Super Fast Future and this is still the only statement on the BDUK web site about policy. It say ‘We are determined that communities and local authorities should have a say in how these networks will be built’ - So ask you County for speed by property planned to expose the problems.
Posted by mikejp over 2 years ago
"We are determined that communities and local authorities should have a say in how these networks will be built" - unfortunately HMG/BDUK are constantly proved to be impotent, and BT decide who has a say - and it is certainly not communities. I doubt it is LAs either.
Posted by Plankton1066 over 2 years ago
@cen8wfw clearly like many others your line is ancient and you're paying the price of line "rental" going to nibbles at the shareholders AGM rather than being invested in infrastructure. If BT/DMCS have decided that 19th century telephone technology is the way to go to deliver 21st century data services and want to sweat copper infrastructure it should at least maintain to give a good speed v distance..
Posted by galacticz00 over 2 years ago
Jen1 only provides historic information the most up to date being July 2013. It does not provide the information which BT has on what their predicted role out speeds are. For my county - Cumbria the map published by BT is totally indecipherable. You cannot locate post codes or properties so it is impossible to tell if my post code will get superfast broadband at all. I would imagine that this is much the same in other counties.
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