The Universal Service Commitment has largely been handed over to satellite based services, though some local authorities are making good use of fixed wireless services too, but one community in Cheshire has shown another option is possible. Residents of Ollerton working together under the umbrella Connecting Ollerton have managed to club together the £350 subsidy available under the USC scheme and via the Openreach Community Fibre scheme is gap funding a VDSL2 cabinet to service the area.
The premises concerned are all connected to cabinet 10 on the Knutsford exchange and while those properties in Knutsford itself are enjoying superfast from the cabinet, Ollerton is too far to benefit and thus the desire for better speeds. The location for the new cabinet is hinted at via the fact the cabinet will serve some 65 premises around School Lane, and there are two likely locations for the cabinet, option 1 which would place it at the centre of the 65 premises junction on Streetview and all those 65 should get superfast we believe. An alternate option would be at junction on Chelford Road which will increase the distance to some of the 65 premises, but with appropriate copper network rearrangement could bring superfast connectivity to another 70+ premises located at the junction of Marthall Lane and Chelford Road. The difficulty being that these premises are predicted 3 to 13 Mbps VDSL2 speeds from cabinet 10 by Openreach currently (we are more pessimistic with a 1 to 7 Mbps range in our model) and thus probably are not contributing any USC subsidy and the rearrangement will cost, but would offer Openreach, residents and Cheshire Council a path of getting superfast to around 140 premises rather than just 65.
"As your local MP, I fight for every community here in Cheshire - no matter how large or small. I've been working hard with local residents in Ollerton and BT to find a way to get superfast broadband to the village. That's because this broadband is essential to modern life - and I don't want Cheshire to miss out. Far from Ollerton missing out, it has become the very first village in the country to benefit from this new national scheme that the government I was part of set up. That's great news and I hope it's just a start in connecting up the most rural parts of Cheshire"Rt Hon George Osborne MP for Tatton
We did ask when the expected ready for service date for this cabinet will be, and a within 12 months answer was forthcoming. For any other community exploring the Community Fibre parternership scheme this is the sort of time frame we have seen for other communities that have used the project.
This infill cabinet for Ollerton is precisely the sort of thing that we are seeing a lot of in the phase II BDUK projects, and while it was always likely that Cheshire would have got around to providing a service for this area eventually, by working together residents will have hopefully brought things forward and removed a lot of the uncertaintity around when better broadband would appear in an area.