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Worcestershire announces next areas to benefit as superfast roll-out continues
Thursday 28 January 2016 14:07:56 by Andrew Ferguson

The reality of the BDUK roll-outs is that many people just want to know when better broadband will arrive and have little care for whether what they can buy now will last for several decades as they often just want something that makes video streaming more reliable or in some cases possible for the first time.

Worcestershire who signed their SEP (Superfast Extension Programme) in 2015 before the EU State Aid approval expired has now announced the areas that should benefit some 8,000 premises and take fibre based coverage to 95% by Autumn 2017 (the superfast coverage level is going to be lower due to VDSL2 distance limitations).

Arley, Cotheridge and Spetchley will get access to a fibre based service (FTTC or FTTP) for the first time.

Ashton-under-Hill, Badsey, Belbroughton, Broadway, Bishampton, Blakedown, Chaddesley Corbett, Clows Top, Great Witley, Hallow, Hartlebury, Harvington, Kidderminster, Ombersley, Peopleton, Pershore, Rock, Wolverley and Worcester will see infill work and based on what we see elsewhere in the UK, this may mean extra VDSL2 cabinets or even FTTP for premises too far from an existing live cabinet to benefit.

Initial detail for Worcestershire Superfast Extension Programme

"Our roll-out of superfast broadband has already reached an extra 3.5 million premises so far, and around 50,000 in Worcestershire alone. We're on track to reach 95 per cent of the country by 2017, and I'm delighted that the extra funding means another 8,000 homes and businesses in Worcestershire will be able to access superfast speeds.

Ed Vaizey, Digital Economy Minister

We looked at the coverage in Worcestershire back in October and the county has sailed through the 90% FTTC/FTTP/cable based target now, and we are today looking at the coverage based on the constituencies in the county.

thinkbroadband calculation of Superfast, USC, USO and Fibre Broadband Coverage for Worcestershire and its component constituencies
Figures 28th January 2016
Area % fibre based
FTTC, FTTP, Cable
% superfast
> 24 Mbps
% superfast
>= 30 Mbps
% ultrafast
>= 100 Mbps
% Openreach FTTP % Under 2 Mbps USC % Under 10 Mbps USO
Worcestershire 92.3% 86.8% 85.6% 25.1% 0.03% 0.9% 7.6%
Constituencies
Bromsgrove 93.5% 86.9% 85.5% 21.6% 0.02% 0.5% 4.1%
Mid Worcestershire 91.2% 80.9% 78.7% 0.3% 0.04% 1.7% 10.8%
Redditch 95.2% 93.5% 93.3% 81.2% 0.07% 0.3% 4.1%
West Worcestershire 79.5% 70.8% 68.4% 0.2% 0.07% 1.7% 20.5%
Worcester 98.5% 97.1% 96.8% 1.2% 0% 0.4% 1.3%
Wyre Forest 95.5% 90.9% 90.1% 49.5% 0% 0.6% 5.2%

The critics of the BDUK process are very vocal about which areas were chosen to benefit from the roll-out, with a consistent call for an outside in approach, i.e. start in the least populated areas in the hope that commercial roll-outs will meet half way and 100% coverage be achieved with less public intervention. So we are showing one of the component districts in Worcestershire and the level of superfast broadband at 30 Mbps or faster, the district covers over 50,000 premises and the raw figures are 77.4% with access to 24 Mbps or faster, 75.1% with access to 30 Mbps, a little FTTP at 0.03% and 3% at under 2 Mbps, 13.8% under proposed 10 Mbps USO.

Where in Wychavon 30 Mbps or faster broadband is available
Variations in superfast broadband coverage across Wychavon District Council

The blue grey area is one of the areas with no superfast coverage, and also no fibre based broadband coverage and was highlighted to show difficulty if the projects had addressed the hardest areas first, the area which is the smallest area defined by the ONS in the census data output data comprises some 37 postcodes covering 200 premises in a roughly 4km by 3km area. Trying to cover areas like this with VDSL2 means lots of cabinets at a high cost or using more labour intensive FTTP with its attendant labour costs and longer time scales. Or put more plainly the choice would have been help 5% to 10% of premises and leave 20% waiting or cover the 20% and hope to find money to deal with the others later. Some counties have gone deeper towards a 100% goal and differences in delivery even when the phase 1 projects had a consistent BT behind them suggest that councils have actually had a degree of input to the direction and scope of the projects.

The Worcestershire project is doing a good job of providing information to those in the area, as they have a dedicated cabinet status page with detail of the 298 cabinets that are live and how many premises this affected (the homes passed is updated on a quarterly basis).

Comments

Posted by gerarda 10 months ago
"Trying to cover areas like this with VDSL2 means lots of cabinets at a high cost" That's why a solely FTTC approach was wrong and level of non-green areas shown on your map is a damning indictment of that approach not a justification for it
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) 10 months ago
And your feedback on the OR
Posted by Blackmamba 10 months ago
Hi Broadband Watchers.
Please remember FTTC is step one, step two could be a mix of G/Fast and FTTP which is the cheapest way to provide 30 meg EU with the time involved 2020 as long as the money is there.
Posted by gerarda 10 months ago
I came across this paper which makes interesting reading http://www.nextgenevents.co.uk/files/pdf/nextgen12/Nicholas%20James.pdf
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) 10 months ago
http://www.thinkbroadband.com/speedtest/results.html?id=1426181578198658055

3.5GHz Relish in Swindon, and that's about the best I can find. When I expand to include London area then its 1.5 Mbps for bottom 10%, median 10.7 Mbps and 34.1% for top 10%. Now fiting external antenna may boost speeds, adds cost to roll-out (truck roll and kit) on top of the masts.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) 10 months ago
Other fixed wireless providers do exist, and that triples the tests we see and bottom 10% is 2.5 Mbps, median 11.1 Mbps, top 10% 36.2 Mbps

FTTC is bottom 10% 9.8 Mbps, median 26.2 Mbps, top 10% 45.2 Mbps
Posted by TheEulerID 10 months ago
Whether it's radio waves going through the ether or carried down a transmission line, distance is going to hurt. Oliver Heaviside & Claude Shannon would understand.

nb. I'd say the top 10% of FTTC being 36.2mbps probably tells us more about the UK population being careful with their money than the technical capabilities of lines. How many actually buy "up-to" 80mbps packages?
Posted by gerarda 10 months ago
@andrew - you have to remember that the FWA networks have not received any public subsidy to upgrade them.
Posted by gerarda 10 months ago
even more they have been the subject of attack by the publicly funded BDUK rollout which has eroded their customer base making it even less viable for them to invest.
Posted by WWWombat 10 months ago
@gerarda
Good, but basic presentation. Mostly true, except that mobile networks are no longer about just voice.

The biggest thing lacking was the slide equivalent to page 11 (range) but for capacity. His whole point on pages 4,5,6 was that FWA is all about capacity, not range. To get capacity, you need more spectrum, and more masts, with more antenna (sectors) running at lower power.

Once you lower the power to deliberately serve a smaller, more manageable number of users, the range becomes irrelevant.

Data on how they support capacity would be more interesting
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) 10 months ago
Fixed wireless in Swindon has had a chunk of money its way and £2m to UK Broadband for the roll-out which that paper is basically the sales brochure for

West Oxfordshire DC is funding a mixed wireless/FTTH solution.

Lincolnshire funded some FWA in the phase 1 roll-out.

Pilot projects as part of the phase 3 pilots

There was also one in Cumbria if I recall that shutdown after funding taken away, i.e. network could not run without continuing subsidy
Posted by gah789 10 months ago
Your reasons for no SFB in the blue-grey area are revealing. FTTC may be too costly with a density of 17 premises per sq km. I know the area - it is urban by comparison with where I live, which has perhaps 3-4 premises per sq km.
To postulate a choice between working outwards or working inwards is far too simplistic. The real criticism concerns the almost complete failure to think and experiment about serving the least populated areas.
Posted by gah789 10 months ago
Even FWA is barely viable in these areas, especially if you have to build masts to serve hilly and/or heavily wooded terrain. In the US viable WISPs operate in suburban areas & small towns, not thinly populated parts of Maine, etc. In the UK, FWA is no easy answer for the final 2%..5%. The scale is small and the problems are endless. But without FWA you are left with satellite which is even worse. If this had been thought about 3-4 years ago there would not be the upswelling of resentment at being left out of the BDUK programme.
Posted by TheEulerID 10 months ago
@gah789

Anybody expecting a magic cost-effective solution for such areas (excluding satellite which has severe latency issues) is probably wishing for the impossible as I don't see any credible candidates.

The issue isn't technical in nature; it's political, commercial, regulatory, financial & resourcing. In that innovation is possible, then it's probably about targeted assistance, enabling, co-funding and so on.
Posted by gerarda 10 months ago
@TheEulerID If the definition of cost effective was based on increased economic value and digital inclusion not simply premises passed then we might have seen a different approach.
Posted by JNeuhoff 10 months ago
@TheEulerID (Steve Jones): "is probably wishing for the impossible as I don't see any credible candidates."

We repeatedly hear from you statements like that. How about you tell us what could be done, and how?
Posted by WWWombat 10 months ago
@gerarda
What is your threshold for "digital inclusion"? Just a speed (Say 2Mbps)? Or something else?
Posted by gerarda 10 months ago
I would take the same approach as used for relative poverty -50% of the national median average - both down and upspeeds, and for price no more than the average paid those speeds.
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