Community Fibre Ltd has acquired a majority stake in Box Broadband. Community Fibre already aim to build their network to connect 1 million London homes by 2023. This acquisition expands their footprint and is intended to cover 200,000 homes across the South of England by 2024. Box Broadband will remain an independent company, and Graham Sargood will continue to lead the business.
Community Fibre expands footprint with Box Broadband acquisition
A subscriber in Coneyhurst Lane confirms that their Box Broadband connection is now live, with “stunning performance”. Two neighbours in the lane are also up and running, with more being installed soon.
I have been informed that the majority of the Pitch Hill project subscribers have now been connected to the Box Broadband gigabit fibre network. For example, Jeannie Cameron, at the top of Pitch Hill above the Windmill Inn, reports that her speed test results have gone from under 2 Mbps to 1,037 Mbps, meaning that the Box Broadband service really has transformed her life. James kindly posted one of his speed test results from The Warren with his feedback here. I would love to hear from others who registered their support for my campaign all those years ago, confirming whether now connected with Box or even another solution, in total confidence of course unless otherwise agreed. I have already heard from 3 people still waiting, and getting increasingly frustrated as those around them get connected, one of these being a Pitch Hill project subscriber. Having spoken to Graham, I understand that there are genuine technical or legal challenges to overcome in all cases, and that these are being progressed as fast as is possible.
It was exciting to learn that a 300m section of dig has been completed to allow connection of the Pitch Hill fibre to Coneyhurst Lane, and that Box are now even planning expansion to cover the majority of Ewhurst and Cranleigh.
The Pitch Hill deployment is reported to be going well; there are now several premises connected on the following roads, all served from the new cabinet in Ockley Road.
- GU6 7QB – Downhurst Road
- GU6 7QH – The Avenue
- GU6 7SJ – Holmbury Road
- GU6 7PJ – Pigeons, Shere Road
- GU6 7NR – Peaslake Road
- GU6 7QF – Ockley Road
- GU6 7NW – The Warren
- GU6 7NN – Pitch Hill
- GU6 7NP – Moon Hall Road
James reports on his experience in The Warren here.
I was delighted to hear that the first connection on the Pitch Hill network, in Shere Road, went live on 29th March, with further premises in Peaslake Road coming online more recently, and work now nearing completion in Moon Hall Road. The area is served by a new Box Broadband FTTP cabinet on the Ockley Road.
The new Box Broadband FTTP cabinet on Ockley Road also serves the northern parts of central Ewhurst. Connections in Holmbury Road and Downhurst Road, which had been delayed by Covid-19 and the change in build partner, have also been activated recently.
It’s three years since the first FTTP connections revolutionised our lives here in eastern Ewhurst and Walliswood, and over the past year that fibre has been worked so much harder than anyone could have anticipated. I was unable to detect an issue with performance myself, but nevertheless it was brilliant to receive notification that our backhaul capacity was significantly upgraded earlier this month. Box Broadband are now able to offer 10Gb business connections, seeming incredible in such a rural location, with the two backhaul links also now providing backup in the event one fails.
The new contractors have recently made excellent progress on the new Pitch Hill network under very difficult conditions. Jeannie reports that a huge amount of work has been completed over the last two months and many properties now have fibre access on their doorstep, albeit not yet lit. We sincerely hope that there are fewer challenges when completing the remaining work, so that all those on and around the Hill, who need better broadband so badly at this time, can look forward to the transformational upgrade very soon.
Dear Residents of Pitch Hill,
You might have seen this week in the Ewhurst newsgroups some rumours about Box Broadband being purchased by BT. These rumours are untrue and we continue to operate as an independent company with supportive investors. Also, I can confirm that Box Broadband has not gone into liquidation and are operating teams out of Ewhurst to support our current customer base across Cranleigh and Ewhurst.
Regarding the build of Pitch Hill, I would like to advise that Box Broadband will no longer be working with Boxcom Network Services as its build partner. There are areas across Cranleigh and Ewhurst where the build remains incomplete and we will be bringing in new build partners to support our ongoing build and growth program. These discussions have been ongoing over the last few weeks and we have two very strong companies who will be picking up our network build and maintenance. Pitch Hill is still top priority to complete once we can get teams back on the ground.
I am sorry for the delays and I know this is not acceptable to you, but Box Broadband is working hard to get build projects restarted after a very difficult summer.
Box Broadband Limited
Dear residents of Pitch Hill,
A further update on progress; we are still installing a small number of customers in the Ewhurst area where our network is already live.
Working through getting back to building networks has been ongoing internally within the company, and we are hoping that we can restart build in September, We still have a couple of things to put in place for the business to move this forward but we have made significant progress in August, Pitch Hill is still the first and top priority as the build programme re-starts.
I will not be more specific on dates but as soon as I know exact build start I will be communicating immediately.
Box Broadband Limited
Box Broadband customers in Walliswood and Ewhurst were affected by the major outage in a Docklands data centre on Tuesday 18th August 2020. Our connection was down at start of day, and checking the router log showed that it went down at 4:25 am. I called Box Broadband support and heard a recorded message that they were aware of an outage in Ewhurst, however, the option to press 2 for further details did not work on my mobile for some reason. So I checked the status page at www.boxbroadband.co.uk/status and there was already a post saying that they were investigating. I sent an email from my mobile to let Box support know that I was affected. Checking the Box status page again a little later revealed that the problem had been caused by a major incident at their London data centre, and offering to reconnect customers to their other feed, which was not affected. We were able to use our mobiles, so opted to wait. I also have a PAYG 3G “dongle” backup connection, but did not need to use it on this occasion. Our Box Gigabit connection was restored by the Equinix data centre engineers at 9:29 pm. The final report from Box on the status page is as follows.
“18/08/2020 04:24 to 21:28 – A fault occurred at a third-party data centre in London causing one of our two lines to go down in the Walliswood area. We were able to get around half of the affected customers reconnected to a backup link for the duration of the outage. The issue at the data centre was a major incident where a UPS had (apparently) caught fire and a knock-on effect was the total building had lost power affecting over 150 companies including BT, Sky, Virgin and many many others. Given the scale of this incident it took most of the day for the data centre to transition to a new power system and get things up and running again.”
Read a full report on the incident at The Register
Pitch Hill residents received this update from Graham Sargood.
“I am writing to advise that we are still busy with installs in the area and are working … so we can complete build work in the Cranleigh and surrounding areas. The completion of the build on Pitch Hill is our absolutely first priority and it is expected that once we get back onto the Hill we will be 4-6 weeks from connecting the first customers.”
I am informed that Box Broadband completed an installation in Mapledrakes Road (Ewhurst) yesterday, confirming that they are working hard to catch up on time lost.
Box Broadband issued the following statement yesterday.
We have now completed between 75%-80% of the build which includes all of the challenging build through woods (Boxcom teams were in the woods recently as some residents saw) and across farms. These sections proved to be far more difficult than we had first expected but they are all pretty much completed.
The remainder of the build now requires a number of road crossings to complete as it is more on the main sections of road. We are working with Boxcom at the moment to work out how we get their other teams off furlough to complete this work.
I cannot express how difficult working around Covid and furlough has been so that we can avoid redundancies to our teams but we are as keen as you to get Pitch Hill completed for the residents and get the connections in place for both of our benefits, the project has been hugely expensive to date so we need to get it finished also.
I had been waiting for more information, but this seems a good opportunity to publish a little bit of good news.
A new pure-fibre distribution cabinet has been installed at the EYSC and some adjacent customers in Broomers Lane are now connected and working well. I do not yet have any information about the full area to be covered by this new cabinet; hopefully service will eventually be available to the whole of central Ewhurst. I understand that the Parish Council gave Box Broadband a free way-leave across the Recreation Ground; from the Bowls Club to beyond the tennis courts, in exchange for free connection to the EYSC, Village Hall and Glebe Centre.
Homes need a fast Internet connection now as never before, with perhaps several family members working from home and others needing entertainment. This will amply demonstrate the advantage of symmetric pure-fibre over FTTC, BT’s partial fibre substitute. For example, I have not noticed any reduction in connection speed over the last few weeks, and our Box connection is as reliable as ever.
I have seen several complaints about pre-sales communication on social media. Apparently enquiries are not always dealt with efficiently, and it seems Box continue to suggest very optimistic delivery timescales. Perhaps these issues are understandable under the circumstances, but they really should have been sorted out by now.
Most construction work on our pure-fibre network, including the Pitch Hill area, had already been much delayed by the high rainfall over the winter. Box Broadband have recently issued the following statement:
In this time of uncertainty regarding COVID-19, at Box Broadband, we are committed to protecting our customers and employees.
For the time being, all customer visits and installations have been suspended on the advice of the government, and we are reviewing the situation daily.
New internet installations, and wireless extender installations are not currently taking place. The only time an engineer will visit your property is to setup your telephone service in the event that your phone number transfers to us in the near future. These visits will only be to deliver a small adapter which will be left on your doorstep or posted to you. The configuration required will be done remotely and our engineers will arrange this with you.
Our technical team are still fully operational and available by email and telephone during this time. They’re also available to be mobilised in the event of any major outage.
The safety of our customers and employees remains our number one priority and we are continuing to closely follow the advice of Public Health England and the UK Government. We will continue to inform you with latest updates through email, social media and website updates.
The Pitch Hill Box Broadband network continues to progress and I’m advised that it will be going live by the end of January for all those Pitch Hill properties who have subscribed. Graham Sargood, the CEO at Box, told me that this network is being built as several fibre rings. He explained that they have already built the network to Coneyhurst Lane, and now need to complete the various fibre rings, which will then be connected underground along the road verges. One ring was built at the Warrens (above the Windmill Inn) which will serve those properties to the west and the north. Another ring is being networked to the Holmbury side at present which will bring in those properties on the east side. These will soon be connected by specialist teams, with a join along Moon Hall Road and Barhatch Lane for example. At this point residents will be contacted directly to arrange access and to discuss specific routes on each property. Chris Box is leading the engineering and networking side of it all and many of you will have seen him and the teams around the area. Also, some of you may have heard me on LBC radio recently, when Eddie Mair launched a quest for the UK’s worst internet. I was driving at that moment and pulled over and called in. Eddie kept saying that we have “Jeannie pitching for Pitch Hill” as he encouraged others to call in. I advised how bad our internet was, and compared it to the island of Jura in Scotland where I’d been recently where the internet (and the roads) were much better than we have in Surrey at Pitch Hill. I think we won – ours was clearly worse than any of the other callers. We are all looking forward to the new year and our new internet service and thanks again to Chris Box and his colleagues for making it happen.
Following a significant private investment deal, Box Broadband Ltd continue to expand our pure fibre (FTTP) network in all directions. To the north, Coneyhurst Lane, and Lyefield Lane to the east are expected to be online by the year end. In the south the coverage will include Cox Green, and the huge western expansion into Cranleigh now extends to Mead Road and part of Horsham Road, close to the village centre. Please note that the network can only grow into areas where there is sufficient demand, as registered on the Box Broadband web site.
Box Network Coverage by Postcode, online already or due by end of 2019:
Jeannie tells me that she plans to send an update for Pitch Hill very soon.
I am very excited to report that Pitch Hill area residents and businesses have responded overwhelmingly in favour of the pure fibre network proposal from Box Broadband Ltd. Jeannie Cameron and her helpers have worked incredibly hard to contact all premises in the area and answer the multitude of questions about the ambitious plans to provide a world class broadband, TV and telephone service in this challenging terrain. Box Broadband’s engineering contractor and sister company Boxcom Network Services Ltd already has an active base in Ewhurst, and much of the planning has already been done, so it is hoped that construction of the Pitch Hill Network can start as early as next month (July 2019).
Anyone who has received details from Jeannie but not yet asked to be included should do so urgently to email@example.com. The exact route has not yet been finalised, so those in the surrounding area who did not receive Jeannie’s invitation should quickly register their interest at www.boxbroadband.co.uk or contact Box at firstname.lastname@example.org or 0330 113 0180.
I also heard that Box recently took a call from a resident whose Internet connection had been down for weeks with no resolution in sight; he was losing bookings and unable to run his business. Box connected him the next day to their 1 Gbps service, for which he was very grateful. Being local, Box has the flexibility to provide this type of great customer experience and really make a difference in the community.
The Challenger Magazine (June 2019 Cranleigh edition) has published an interview with Graham Sargood, Box Broadband Ltd CEO, answering questions such as:
- What services do Box Broadband offer?
- What is your background?
- How is the company financed?
- What are the plans for Box Broadband?
The following postcodes have been added since the last Box Broadband network coverage update. These are confirmed live with premises now connected to Gigabit broadband services.
||The Green, Ewhurst
||The Green, Ewhurst
||The Green, Ewhurst
||Furzen Lane, Ellen’s Green
Box Broadband have recently opened a Sales office in Cranleigh. Graham Sargood, the CEO (Chief Executive Officer) is based there while building the fibre link to Cranleigh.
Box Broadband Limited
The Old Bakery, Collins Court, 39 High Street
Cranleigh GU6 8AS
0330 113 0180
Local support staff remain based in Ewhurst on 0330 113 0180.