On the one hand you would think that a community over 8km from the telephone exchange would be welcoming the Connecting Cumbria project with open arms. Alas the story seems more complex in Great Asby and the surrounding postcodes, the village was blessed (or cursed) with an early fibre roll-out in the form of TPON (which is incompatible with the GEA roll-out), but this seems have at least had a copper overlay with predicted speeds of 2 to 3 Mbps either the BT Wholesale estimates are wrong or heavy duty copper was used for the eventual copper overlay to bring ADSL2+ all the way from Appleby in Westmorland.
So why the mixed feelings, well some years ago a Community Interest Company (CIC) was created to create a 5.8 GHz wireless network for the village and surrounding area and after several upgrades appears to be providing reasonable speeds and some claim that superfast speeds are possible at times. The divide that seems to be developing surrounds the talk that Connecting Cumbria may be bringing FTTP to the area in the summer of 2015. The wireless operator seems upbeat about the change, citing that they always saw the wireless network as a stopgap solution until more commercial solutions arrived in the area. Unfortunately it is not clear yet whether all the properties in Great Asby and surrounding area served by the numerous cabinets outside the church will be included in the roll-out.
In theory if FTTP is deployed then so long as the cost of doing so stacks up then all of the premises connected to the cabinet PS1 should benefit, but some are a decent distance from the centre of the village and it is these that are worried the main village will benefit and the wireless network then be turned off, leaving them with no broadband or a very basic 1 to 2 Mbps ADSL service.
While there seems to be significant local confidence that FTTP is on the way to Great Asby we are less sure, and as always would urge caution until such time as fibre manifolds start to appear on poles or in pavement chambers. One thing worth emphasising is that while the native GEA-FTTP roll-out is available to any provider via wholesale mechanisms for the average residential user only BT of the larger providers bothers with advertising it, in the SME sector the number of choices does widen, and while the price lists allow you to order it without a phone line, people invariably do end up with a phone line bundled in, either via copper or over the fibre itself.
Fingers crossed our feeling that FTTC is more likely for the PS1 cabinet are wrong, and Great Asby will a few other parts of the Appleby exchange which are already due for FTTP.
Update 9th April, 8pm It appears that while tbe BT Wholesale checker suggests ADSL2+ is available, several sources have now confirmed it is not. Including BT themselves, we have suggested that it would be best if the checker was updated to reflect the true situation to avoid others getting confused.
BT has also confirmed that FTTP is to be provided to the area of Great Asby with working completing by late summer. This removes some concerns that arose as earlier plans had indicated FTTC was to be used.
Update Monday 13th April The statement below from GAB has been added.
"If there are genuine individual concerns they can be resolved locally by residents contacting GAB and we have recently circulated all residents of Asby Parish, our ‘catchment’ area, with a newsletter that spells out as far as we are able at this stage what the prospects are and inviting residents to contact us directly for further information. I do not think it would be helpful for this process to be conducted on a public website such as ThinkBroadband with people who seek to remain anonymous.
The existing GAB wireless network cannot continue indefinitely as it is run by (ageing) volunteers and it would not be financially viable for staff to be employed. That is why it has always been regarded as a stopgap solution. As far as we can establish all our existing subscribers will be connectable to the FttP network although in some cases extra construction charges may apply. If that proves not to be the case or residents are not prepared to meet ECCs then the option remains for parts of the existing wireless network to remain in operation provided others are prepared to run it.Miles Mandelson, Chairman, Great Asby Broadband CIC