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Has your county told you about their broadband project?
Friday 20 June 2014 12:20:48 by Andrew Ferguson

A common complaint about the BDUK projects is that beyond the photo opportunities most cabinets are quietly enabled and only the real geeks who are checking every week for their cabinets status will notice the upgrade is ready to order. It seems now that at least Surrey County Council has decided to run a mailshot to try and increase the awareness of what the project is doing and encourage people to check if a better service is available to them.

Leaflet and letter on broadband improvements across Surrey
        (click image for larger size

The letter really exists as a method to try and get people to visit where a basic availability check and more information on the roll-out is available. Surrey is fairly unusual in announcing collections of postcodes for areas where cabinets have just gone live too.

We ran a poll asking for feedback from visitors on the level of information from the various local authority projects earlier in 2014 and just over 10% indicated they had received some communications material, fingers crossed if we run the same poll later in the year this will have improved. Driving take-up to 20% and beyond is important as councils can claw back some of the funding if they drive uptake to this sort of level and this can be re-invested to push coverage further or returned to the council's bank account.

The Surrey leaflet makes it clear what the likely result of the project is and that is 84,000 additional homes and businesses will have access to fibre based broadband by the end of the project. When this is combined with the existing commercial roll-out the estimate from the project is that 95% will see speeds of 15 Mbps or faster at peak times. Our own estimate and spread of speeds for Surrey was published back in April, and if just FTTC is deployed we estimated 94.7% at connection speeds of 30 Mbps or faster, which once you allow for speed drops due to peak usage is in line with the councils own estimate. We do know that Surrey County Council is working on upgrading some Exchange Only lines in the county and is also deploying some native FTTP which if used carefully could eradicate the 1% we estimate getting 2 Mbps or slower.

While a full FTTH roll-out to the intervention would be a perfect outcome, given that the original input from the BDUK was just £1.3m in Surrey, with BT adding £11.8m and £20m from the council itself there was never going to be the funds needed to do a full FTTH roll-out which would have needed something in the ball park of £84 million.


Posted by _Resonance_ over 3 years ago
NYnet definitely send out letters when a cabinet is enabled. They also post the info on their Twitter feed.
Posted by Dixinormous over 3 years ago
If FTTC to the intervention area cost nearly 40% of the cost of FTTP I really hope fibre was blown deep into the areas covered.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 3 years ago
Fibre will have reached to every cabinet, so what do you define as deep?
Posted by fenlandbroadband over 3 years ago
Haven't heard anything from Connecting Cambridgeshire despite signing up for email updates. BT Openreach have installed fibre as I've seen them sitting at the side of the road feeding the fibre from the drums and the town is due to get cabinets go live in September according to the website, which also shows a small cluster of houses as already having Superfast broadband available (I presume some form of FTTP direct from the fibres that had to pass their house on the way to the nearest cabinets?
Posted by fenlandbroadband over 3 years ago
... I'm on an EO line though along with about 75+ other houses in the roads directly next to the exchange, which is still white on the (fairly recently added) county map of rollout progress - hopefully it'll be covered in a later stage... I certainly hope so.
Posted by mikejp over 3 years ago
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 radiomarko over 3 years ago
Devon & Somerset- utterly useless at communicating what's happening, lots of froth and no substance.
You want to know something about their year old survey results and your cabinet? No chance as it's "commercially sensitive" even though there are no infrastructure competitors in this OR fibered up town.
Posted by WalterWillcox over 3 years ago
In Surrey there are strong indications that:-

1. "Having access" counts all those lines contained within the FTTC which has a FTTC connected but it is only provisioned with a single 100 pr tie cable set and either one 48 port or two 32 port cards. However, if the supply chain can cope additional cards and then tie cables are to be provided after delays if budgets allow.

2. SCC web site lists all postcodes whether or not they are listed by BT Wholesale checker.
Posted by WalterWillcox over 3 years ago
Correction first FTTC should read PCP
Posted by bezuk over 3 years ago
Claiming 99% superfast coverage is easy when you're allowed to say that an EO property which cannot get Virgin is "in the commercial area" - see your previous article on postcodes I guess.
Posted by chilting over 3 years ago
The bottom line is that it is better for BT and the BDUK projects if they don't get a big uptake. If all the residents asked for an upgrade at the same time - 1, There would be long install delays. 2, They would have to build extra cabinets and 3,[the most important] They would need to spend lots more money! Forget 98% more like 30%.
Posted by madkingsoup over 3 years ago
FYI it should be *county or unitary* body - not all counties have councils.
Posted by bluesbros over 3 years ago
Only since reading this article have I discovered that North, South and West Yorkshire have sites about getting superfast broadband.
Has your county told you about their broadband project? NO!
Posted by michaels_perry over 3 years ago
Many councils are mistaking what counts as 'publishing' these days. Many think that merely putting the information on a website is 'publishing' - it isn't. That is only 'putting in the public domain' which does not involve any publicity at all! So people don't get to know there is any information unless they search out the website. Councils do that all the time and complain about not getting feedback.
It should be a requirement that publicity covering whole area affected be issued to as many properties as possible. Leaving it to a chance discovery is not publishing!
Posted by TheEulerID over 3 years ago

I can see why BT might not want a sudden rush of customers, as it would cause short term capacity provisioning issues, but the argument they wouldn't like it due to the investment required is bonkers. The problem is not the money, it's getting a return. FTTC economic viability is very sensitive to take-up rates and a high take-up rate spells profitability. Adding extra capacity (even a new cabinet) is much cheaper than the first, albeit I understand that work might also be required on the original DP box. (BDUK also get claw-back money. Everybody wins).

Posted by chilting over 3 years ago
I can see that FTTC is viable and that adding new cabinets at existing locations is cheaper but if there was a sudden rush BDUK would not have the financial recources to cover the extra expenditure. The funding actually only covers about 30% uptake without any commitment from BT to make up the shortfall.
Posted by WWWombat over 3 years ago
In March 2013, there were 24,000 cabinets installed. Only 120 (0.5%) had a full supply of cards; 96% were half-full or less; 53% with 2 cards and 40% with 1 card.

In the vast, vast, majority of places, 100% provisioning from day 1 would be a monumental waste of money. Madness, even.

Meanwhile, adding a card to a DSLAM later costs almost nothing, save a delay. Adding a second DSLAM to a location that already has power and a fibre connection is cheap, though not as clever as providing a bigger cabinet in the first place, with more (empty) slots.
Posted by WWWombat over 3 years ago
The funding doesn't "cover 30% uptake", and isn't meant to.

The whole point of gap funding is to cover the gap between actual cost and the cost necessary to be considered commercially viable.

Which means:
The funding covers "commercial viability". Once the money is taken, BT are bound to treat the cabinet in the same manner that it would treat any commercially-viable cabinet. For a period of , IIRC, at least 7 years.

It means that the gap-funding buys, in advance, the requirement to provision upgrades, "business as usual".
Posted by WWWombat over 3 years ago
And finally, you can look at failure to provide an upgrade from the other direction: it would mean that Openreach is failing to provide service to an ISP (such as TalkTalk or Sky) too.

That kind of failure is enough to get Ofcom involved.

You (and Walter) make this sound like a big deal, but it isn't. It is normal provisioning behaviour for any telco.
Posted by Blackmamba over 3 years ago
A go move Walter (SCC) for advertising BT Infinity on long lines tied to the post code and doing a thinkbroad speed test on your iPad thus using band A.
Posted by Blackmamba over 3 years ago
As Phase 4 is closing today in Surrey I think you will find that Lucies dept will be very close to her targets but I feel the target of 99.7% over 15 meg is a bit over the top it could be very close to 99%.
Posted by Blackmamba over 3 years ago
We are only a few days into Phase 5 SCC ( Lucies section ) they are advertising many Cab even over the weekend there post codes and locations the targets are closing very quickly. The take up rates are past the claw back % on many Cabs but the figure for the customers receiving below 15 is increasing we will have to wait and see the final result.
Posted by Blackmamba over 3 years ago
As time is passing BT is getting the upper hand because they are providing service on CN21 Band A on FTTC thus Band B is directed to the old CN20 and the old infrastructure plus cabling back to the main switching units I feel the writing is on the wall for small ISP,s. This operation will extend the 15 meg down this will also effect the .3% in Surrey.
I just hope the Black Mamba does not have to play the joker card.
Posted by Blackmamba over 3 years ago
As SCC is advertising daily (7) the % must be getting above the clawback target plus the opening of the new Cabs aprox 100 + leaving only a few to open.
The Thinkbroadband map is not showing the updated picture on the traffic lights plus the be very accurate on your results in the next phases.
Posted by Blackmamba over 3 years ago
A Cab 12 in Hindhead this is in SCC section has been fitted with two cards as promised and a 100 tie on 135 D Sides.
The bad news is that aprox 40-50 customers are under the 15 meg target and are not happy. This problem may be solved in the Surrey,s last Phase.QED.
Posted by Blackmamba over 3 years ago
Frantic advertising on SCC webpage over the opening of Cabs due to the low take up rate 14% on 620 Cabs in Surrey reconnection still running at ten working days.
Posted by Blackmamba over 3 years ago
At last .Thinkbroadband map is showing the FTTC area on a new layer plus the speeds on the post codes if only they had identified the (Cab FTTC) by colour then customers could have estermated their own speeds.
This method has been used in Surrey by SCC on aprox 70+ Cabs over the last year.
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