Box Broadband Ultrafast Proposals

Firstly, a massive THANK YOU to all those who took time out to attend one of the sessions on Tuesday. The Box team surprised me by presenting costs based on a “commercial” funding model, which they had previously thought unrealistic. This is a very much simpler scheme from our point of view, as I understand it, eliminating the need for us to become involved in fund raising, Government red tape, company formation and accounting etc. However, to make it viable, Box needs a high level of take-up in the area to be covered (essentially the Parish plus some immediate neighbours). The proposals were enthusiastically received by the audience at the two afternoon sessions I attended. Those who commented felt that the monthly fee was realistic for the service being offered.

Andrew Lock has very kindly taken the trouble to write the following in depth report for those who could not attend.

Box Broadband Limited is a new company specifically set up to develop this FTTP network, whereas the parent company, Box Synergy have already installed 100 networks, passed 30,000 potential customers, mainly in the Oxfordshire area, and have converted 7000 to customers. Their presentation focussed on the need to get confirmed interest from the potential 900 households in Ewhurst & Ellens Green of about one third, or 300 households. The incentive for reaching this pre-build commitment would be free installation and fibre router representing a cost saving of c£285. Customers signing up after the network has been constructed are unlikely to be offered this subsidised access as it will require recalling a moling team and connection engineers to the area which is less efficient.

The key take-away from the presentation is that unlike existing asymmetrical broadband provided by Openreach, this would be 100 Mbps minimum both down and up. There is nothing like this provided by BT Fibre to cabinet nor is there ever likely to be as the copper to the home has physical limitations. The benefit of a symmetrical connection is that services like phone calls, Skype, Cloud storage and uploading large files will be superior as they will not be jittery, for example. Indeed such is the upload speed, it would be possible to host your own website from your house/business premises, without the need to pay a hosting company. Fibre to the home/premise (FTTH/FTTP) will allow users to ditch their BT Openreach copper connections, saving the compulsory line rental element of the current broadband services available in Ewhurst, and your existing phone number can be “ported” to an internet phone service referred to a Voice over IP (VoIP). Box have good experience of the Vonage service which even allows your calls to be routed to wherever you are in the world.

The cost is dependent on initial take-up but could be in the region of £56.60/month for the first two years for a 100 Mbps connection which compares well with BT once the old copper line rental is dispensed with, and of course that speed is both up & down so is not directly comparable. Ultimately it would be possible to connect at substantially higher speeds and an illustrative cost of £76.50/month for 1 Gbps circuit was mooted.

Initial scoping of the project suggests Box will install three cabinets to connect to, after which it will hook up with their “back-haul” (ultra high speed connection to Telehouse East in London, via Crawley). Ewhurst’s proximity to Crawley makes our village an attractive starting point to roll-out similar networks across the south east as there is currently no competition (for symmetric FTTH/P) in rural areas. Box will be approaching other towns and villages in the south east and commercially will be driven to start where demand is greatest. For this reason it is important that residents and businesses demonstrate their collective enthusiasm for a 21st century network, as this presents a unique opportunity to leapfrog other rural and even urban areas as BT continues its policy of sweating their 20th century asset of copper (or indeed aluminium in some locations).

It was pointed out that even where residents were happy with their current connection, the availability of fibre to the home would increase the attractiveness of properties in the area to buyers from outside the area, as good quality broadband is now becoming an essential prerequisite to even consider a property. With so few rural properties having access to this sort of connection it would set Ewhurst apart. In fact Box’s experience is that even where businesses have paid Openreach for their own private fibre connections often costing ten’s of thousands of pounds to install, they are migrating to Box solutions when they become available as the monthly rental costs are substantially lower.

Questions were asked about a) proximity to the highway where the main fibre would be installed. Box explained that only isolated households down very long driveways would need to negotiate an additional cost to cover the moling work involved in laying an underground fibre exclusively for that property. b) laying the fibre. It is preferable to bury fibre near the highway, or across fields, rather than share BT’s poles as this has proved unreliable and bureaucratic. Surrey County Council has an obligation to assist new contractors by allowing access to the verges along highways, and modern surveying and utility plans ensure that disruption to existing services is minimised.

Afterwards, informally, I discussed a tiered pricing model according to need, as it was apparent that those in the centre of the village already enjoyed acceptable connections but there were a cohort of outliers for whom the benefits could justify either a contribution to the initial infrastructure or a higher service change. Once the responses have been analysed Chris Box would be in a better position to develop a pricing model that worked for everybody.

Many thanks to Andrew for that excellent summary.

Please register your interest in the project on the fledgling Box Broadband web site, which will be fully developed over time, at www.boxbroadband.co.uk.

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Tuesday Ultrafast Event Times Extended

To help our commuters, Box Broadband have kindly agreed to keep the doors open until at least 8.30 pm, and to re-run their Ultrafast Broadband presentation for late arrivals, if requested. The event at the EYSC (on the central recreation ground, down Broomers Lane near the village shop), will be manned by Box Broadband staff from 2 pm to 8.30 pm. Planned presentation times are now 2.30, 4.30, 7 and 8 pm (if required), and their staff will be available to explain the proposals and answer questions throughout the afternoon and evening. Staff on hand will include an engineer and the Managing Director. Tea and coffee will be provided. I plan to be there for the opening at 2 pm, and for the 4.30 session, and as much of the afternoon as possible. Parish Councillors will also be present at various times.

About 900 flyers were delivered in and around Ewhurst and Ellens Green, but the delivery people are not familiar with the area, so apologies if you or your neighbours were missed. Please do encourage others to attend if you can.

This exciting new opportunity is only possible due to a new government initiative, encouraging “Altnets” to provide a pure fibre optic feed directly into homes and businesses, entirely separate from BT’s network. The £1bn Digital Infrastructure Fund sounds large, but only part will be used in this way, and I expect that relatively few rural communities will be able to benefit. I think that we may need to act fast and demonstrate great enthusiasm. Please drop-in to the EYSC event on Tuesday if you can, between 2 pm and 8.30 pm.

Ewhurst connection speeds currently vary between 1 and 68 Mbps download (upload speeds are much slower) depending on the location, and are often erratic or unreliable. The service still relies on the copper phone lines, which severely limits future speed increases and reliability. Pure fibre to the premises (FTTP) from Box will provide a minimum of 100 Mbps, down and up, to premises in any location, at a similar cost to equivalent services, with up to 1000 Mbps being potentially available at extra cost, and supporting much higher speeds as needed in future. This differs from the BT Community Fibre scheme in several ways, but probably the most compelling benefit is not having to raise the “gap funding”.

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Community Broadband Drop-in & Talk on 24th January

The event will be presented by Box Broadband Limited at the EYSC, from 2pm to 8.30pm.

This new company has been set up by Chris Box, MD for the well-established rural FTTP installation firm Boxcom Synergy Limited.

We are lucky to have this rare opportunity to talk directly to people from a front-line fibre laying outfit, and to hear how they believe the new government funding can be used to finally bring world class “ultrafast” broadband to this community. Viability will partly be judged by attendance and interest at this meeting, so please do come and support us.

Flyers advertising the event were delivered by hand to many homes yesterday, but bad weather intervened and the remainder should receive theirs over the next few days. In the meantime, please click here to view the flyer online for further details.

So where is the EYSC anyway? Shown in red on the map below, access is from Broomers Lane, which is very narrow, but the building is wheel-chair friendly. If possible, please park nearby (e.g. Village Hall Car Park) and walk down Broomers Lane.

EYSC map

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Exciting New Opportunity – Open Public Meeting

My long search for a credible alternative provider of pure fibre broadband to the Surrey Hills area has finally delivered. This company has been installing symmetric gigabit FTTP (widely acknowledged as the ideal solution) very successfully for several years. A new central government funding initiative, specifically targeted at alternative FTTP projects, means that they can now realistically consider areas like ours.

I’m posting this whilst some details are still under wraps, because the service provider has agreed to explain it all to us, at a public meeting in the EYSC on Tuesday 24th January 2017, open from 2 pm to 8.30 pm. They have proposed informal sessions starting at 2.30 pm, 4.30 pm and 7 pm, with a presentation followed by time to answer any questions we have. At all other times their staff will be available to explain the proposals and answer questions

I apologise for the very short notice; I sincerely believe that demand for this will almost immediately use up available resources, so I felt we could not risk missing the boat.

Link to Government pledge regarding pure fibre optic broadband

Link to Digital Minister support for FTTP/H future of gigabit broadband

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SCC Cabinet Report

This Surrey County Council report, dated 13th December, appears to have been written to get formal approval from Cabinet for the “claw back” funds to be used for further broadband improvements. It provides some insight into where we are in the process, bearing in mind that we should have known by now which communities are to benefit (see April 2016 articles and the last SFS newsletter).

“BT have indicated that the new programme could commence in Q1 2017/18 (April 2017) and would be completed in Q3 2018/19 (December 2018).”

So, we can now expect to be informed who will benefit before the proposed start of work in April. Link to the full report: SCC Report December 2016

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BT Community Fibre Application Submitted

Our application for the BT Community Fibre Programme was submitted on 12/12/16 and was acknowledged on 14/12/16. It included 66 registered broadband connection records which I believe to be eligible; 9 records were excluded because “superfast” broadband is already available, and 1 person who replied did not wish to be included. The acknowledgement stated that BT “will get back to you shortly with a likely design date”; I am unsure what the “design date” represents in this context. The map below shows the approximate distribution of those connections below 25 Mbps as at 23/11/16; each red dot represents a number of premises grouped by postcode, where some postcodes have been merged if in close proximity. The number in the dot represents the number of eligible records at that time. The seven in central Ewhurst are noteworthy; the cable routes must be rather indirect, and possibly the wires or connections are in poor condition. It is possible that some could be levered into the “superfast” category by modifications to the internal wiring or equipment.

Below 25Mbps mapsdata.co.uk

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Community Fibre Registration Progress

I have so far received 66 replies to my invitation to register for the BT Community Fibre Programme. Of these, 61 can be included in our application, and the premises concerned are distributed as follows:

Community Fibre Registration Summary by Road
Road Village Entries
Barhatch Lane Cranleigh 2
Coneyhurst Lane Ewhurst 8
Cranleigh Road Ewhurst 1
Furzen Lane Ellens Green 4
Holmbury Road Ewhurst 1
Horsham Lane Ewhurst 9
Horsham Road Ellens Green 2
Horsham Road Walliswood 4
Lower Breache Road Ewhurst 5
Mapledrakes Road Ewhurst 1
Moon Hall Road Ewhurst 5
North Breache Lane Ewhurst 2
Ockley Road Ewhurst 1
Peaslake Road Ewhurst 2
Pitch Hill Ewhurst 3
Rectory Close Ewhurst 1
Shere Road Ewhurst 1
Somersbury Lane Ellens Green 1
Somersbury Lane Ewhurst 3
The Avenue Ewhurst 1
The Glebe Ewhurst 1
The Street Ewhurst 2
Wykehurst Lane Ewhurst 1
Community Fibre Registration Summary by Postcode
Postcode Entries
GU6 7NH 2
GU6 7NN 3
GU6 7NP 5
GU6 7NR 2
GU6 7PF 1
GU6 7PJ 1
GU6 7PL 3
GU6 7PN 3
GU6 7PP 2
GU6 7PU 1
GU6 7PX 2
GU6 7PZ 1
GU6 7QH 1
GU6 7QW 1
GU6 7SA 1
GU6 7SJ 1
GU6 7SL 1
GU6 7SN 2
GU6 7SQ 5
GU6 7SR 3
GU6 7SW 9
RH12 3AP 1
RH12 3AR 2
RH12 3AS 2
RH12 3AT 1
RH12 3AW 1
RH5 5RL 4

It is clear that the properties are spread over a large area, and some roads have only one entry. BT has said that they will probably divide the area up, and I expect they will focus on the roads with the greatest demand. BT has also advised that our application should include all interested parties, so I recommend further distribution of the invitation, especially in roads with a low response to date. We have found this to be most effective when someone asks their neighbours to register in person, since many are wary of sending their contact details to a stranger. It is also important to say that this initial application does not commit us to anything and will not affect the SCC review; each registration will help us to get reasonable proposals by demonstrating the demand in each road.

The printable A4 version of the invitation has been updated to reflect the new FTTP products from BT Openreach. The fastest speed available will soon be 1,000 Mbps download and 220 Mbps upload. Please download the updated invitation here and use it to encourage others to register. Remember to let me know, so that I can delay sending our application until all responses are in.

The most recent newsletter from Superfast Surrey confirms various details about the BT scheme and related matters. There’s nothing new, but it’s a useful resource for reference, and is available here. It does suggest that Virgin may be able to provide a quote for improvements, but to date the company has declined my requests. I shall try again.

The Government recently published comprehensive guidance for community led broadband schemes here.

In a recent MSE poll, 40% said they would never buy a property which did not have access to high speed broadband, even at a big discount; details here.

Whilst the BT application only applies to those unable to get “superfast” broadband, there may soon be other potential FTTP suppliers. The situation is rapidly developing, so I am also keen to hear from those who already have a “superfast” service, but would like “ultrafast”, or who would be interested in an alternative solution.

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Community Fibre Invitation to Register

I have been looking at the BT Community Fibre Programme as a potential way to improve broadband performance for those of us too far from our cabinet to achieve “superfast” speeds. The programme is open to “communities” below the BT “superfast” threshold (24 Mbps) where there are no plans already in place. It uses the “gap funding” model, where BT contribute the “commercially viable” cost and the community raise the remaining funding.

The community can opt for Fibre To The Premises (FTTP), which currently supports 40, 80, 110, 220 and 330 Mbps connections, and which provides the same fibre broadband service speeds to every home covered, whatever the line length. The 40 and 80 Mbps FTTP services typically cost the same as their Fibre To The Cabinet (FTTC) equivalents, but unlike FTTC you actually get the speed you pay for. Alternatively the community can choose additional FTTC cabinets (or possibly “mini cabinets”), which aim to reduce copper line lengths to the point where everyone gets at least 24 Mbps (and up to 78 Mbps). With either fibre broadband option you can choose your ISP and package in the usual way.

The next step is to compile a list of residents who are currently “below 24 Mbps” and wish to improve their broadband service to “superfast” speed. There is no commitment at this stage; BT just need the information to define the area(s) to be covered, cross check with their own and Surrey County Council (SCC) plans to ensure no overlap, and to work out the ball park costs to the community. The community then decides whether to launch a Community Fibre Partnership (choosing FTTP or FTTC) or not. If we do not continue, then we still have the hope that SCC will include some or all of us in their next phase, but in that scenario we will not have any influence over the choice of FTTP or FTTC.

If the Community project goes ahead, then of course the new service will be available to everyone in the area(s) covered, whether they register interest now or not, and whether they contribute to fund raising or not. However, if you do not register interest at this initial stage then there is a chance that your area may not be covered as a result. Even if you do not anticipate ever needing better broadband performance yourself, remember that the available broadband speed now has a significant impact on property value and saleability.

To register your interest, BT are asking for the following details:

Please use the contact form to let me know you wish to be included. I will only use these details for our attempt to improve our local fibre broadband service and to keep you informed. Whilst the BT Community Fibre Programme only applies to homes where a 24+ Mbps fibre broadband service is not already available, I will be pleased to receive details of any others interested in local FTTP, so that I can keep you informed of future developments.

Posted in Community Fibre | 6 Comments

Is Ewhurst OK for High Speed Broadband?

This was a question posed to me recently, with another, much simpler:

  • What is the location of BT boxes able to connect to high speed fibre?
  • Is every location in Ewhurst OK for HIGH speed broadband?

It’s still a very confusing situation; I hope my replies helped clear things up, and perhaps others may find them useful…

Cabinet locations for Ewhurst, with photos and coverage, can be seen on the cabinet status pages at www.ewhurst-broadband.org.uk/?page_id=3460. Note that the Ellens Green cabinet is not included here because it is on the Rudgwick exchange and so could not be covered by the same project (see instead www.ewhurst-broadband.org.uk/?p=3861).

Anyone within around 1 km of their cabinet (line length) should now have “affordable” access to “superfast” performance (over 24 Mbps). For those very near their cabinet, with cable lengths within about 150 m, the fastest available service is currently up to 80 Mbps. Quite a few could get this in central Ewhurst, but most opt for the cheaper 38 Mbps packages, and this speed is available over a much larger area, up to around 500 m.

This means that perhaps 10% of Ewhurst premises are denied access to “superfast broadband”, along with probably most of Ellens Green. This compares to 4% across the whole of Surrey (see labs.thinkbroadband.com/local/index.php?area=E10000030)

Openreach are trialing various methods for improvements to FTTC performance and “reach”, but have not announced when or where they plan to deploy these. In any case they are stop gap measures; since many copper line lengths will need to be reduced much further at some date. There have already been incremental improvements since FTTC was first installed here, and one such earlier this year appears to have resolved most of the problems we were having with “availability” on long lines. But these have only improved download speeds marginally, and upload speeds not at all.

The (non-binding) 2 Mbps download Universal Service Commitment (USC) is now in force. If someone cannot get this speed from any “affordable” fixed line service, they can apply for a voucher for satellite installation (£400). However, I am in contact with one resident on Pitch Hill who was also unable to get a reliable satellite service. There are likely to be a few others still not achieving the USC, but they have not yet contacted me. 2 Mbps services are barely adequate to access online Government services and to communicate by email, but not usually adequate for video streaming or transferring very large files, for example, and can really only be used by one person or device at a time.

Of course, the universal 2 Mbps USC is a far cry from the promised whole of Surrey “superfast” availability. SCC do have a “phase 2” project in planning stages, see superfastsurrey.org.uk/superfast-surrey-state-aid-public-consultation and www.ewhurst-broadband.org.uk/?p=3962 but they are already saying that available funds will not be adequate to achieve their original goal.

The promised Universal Service Obligation (USO) is now likely to be delayed, since new legislation is required. It was planned to introduce a 10 Mbps USO by 2020. There are many in the Parish without access to an affordable 10 Mbps service, let alone “superfast”. My own connection is around 10 Mbps, and is currently adequate for our household of 2 adults, although our domestic usage is modest compared to others. It is now barely adequate for my business requirements, and does restrict what I can do somewhat. The 0.5 Mbps upload speed is the main problem. Certainly it will become increasingly inadequate well before 2020.

Currently Ewhurst is probably slightly worse off than average in Surrey. This is partly because our FTTC was installed on a “commercial” basis (because of the high demand we demonstrated when applying for the grant), whereas other similar villages were installed as part of the SCC/BDUK funded project, and thus additional funds were available. This extra cash was partly used to provide some FTTP e.g. Alfold including Knowle Lane. In other parts of the UK, BDUK funded projects are still in progress. Even once complete, premises in rural areas will still be far worse off on average than urban areas. Also note that the onus is on the subscriber to seek out their best available service, and to resolve any internal wiring issues, and that the older and slower ADSL services are now much cheaper than “superfast” services.

Openreach will now work with communities who wish to fund certain improvements themselves. One Surrey community has privately funded their own FTTC cabinets. These are two entirely new cabinets to serve an area over 2 km from the existing BT cabinets, a community of 118 premises. Openreach have charged rural communities up to £60,000 (including VAT which may be refunded) to install each new cabinet. See www.gu8superfast.co.uk/?page_id=226. The long lines in our Parish are widely dispersed, so additional cabinets may not be cost effective here. Openreach have been trialing “mini cabinets” for some time, but I do not know if these are yet available for “gap funded” community projects. Also, “native” FTTP seems to have been excluded from these projects for commercial reasons. [Edit 27/09/16 by DN: A BT representative has since indicated that FTTP is now an option. Together with the interest generated by this article, this resulted in my invitation for the community scheme being posted today.]

The Better Broadband Subsidy Scheme, developed by the government to support the 2 Mbps USC, has recently been revised to include a number of additional Satellite and Wireless providers (see superfastsurrey.org.uk/revised-better-broadband-subsidy-scheme).

Posted in FAQ, Information | 4 Comments

Brexit and broadband

Superfast Surrey have stated that the Brexit vote will not have any immediate impact on their next phase, and the BDUK process is likely to continue for the next couple of years at least. Once their “NGA white” or “target white” areas have been approved by BDUK, BT will model further deployments in these areas, and the existing 10 year contractual targets will be changed to reflect what is thought to be possible with the additional funding and claw-back. It is hoped to reach this stage later in the year.

Superfast Surrey have also now admitted that FTTP-on-Demand may not actually be available in Surrey, and have modified their advice accordingly. We are told that offering the service is a commercial decision which cannot be influenced by local government. On this basis, it is unclear why the service is apparently available to order in Wales but not England.

Meanwhile, Openreach and their contractors are still being seen laying more fibre around the county. However, it is not clear how much of this will be extending their GEA network and how much is “private”. Some will be for community funded FTTC, such as the Hydestile project, and some for delayed “commercial” cabinets such as Cranleigh PCP2. Very usefully in this context, I see that ThinkBroadBand (TBB) are now plotting native FTTP coverage:
  • search for a postcode using the search box on the map
  • hover over the little tile icon (above the search box)
  • select “Openreach Native FTTP Postcodes”

Note that FTTC availability in Ewhurst improved very slightly earlier this year. I helped one neighbour where Openreach had attempted but failed to install “fibre” service last year, yet were able to provide this service more recently, improving download speeds from 1 Mbps to 6 Mbps. This availability update also seems to have resolved many of the “condemned” lines, where the service was denied for no good reason, due to an “internal system fault”.

If you have a long line, and have had FTTC for some time, you may be able to improve performance slightly by updating your modem. My 3 year old model was swapped recently during a fault investigation, and although the old modem was found not be faulty, the new one is faster. Until the swap, I had to choose between favoring download, using the old Huawei modem, or faster upload, using the old ECI model. Now the new ECI modem simultaneously matches the maximum speeds I previously recorded for both upload and download. Sadly I do not have a new Huawei to compare, but in any case Openreach recommend using ECI modems in Ewhurst, to match our cabinet equipment. Note that combined modem/routers from other manufacturers are now being supplied as standard, or you can source your own in some cases. At present we are not aware of any modem performing better than the separate ECI or Huawei models supplied by Openreach, but if you have something different, it is probably best to leave it alone.

The satellite voucher scheme has been running for a while now, but in case you missed it, click here for details.

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Ransomware warning

One of my clients has been the victim of ransomware, delivered via an email attachment which was opened by an employee (supposedly about a Fedex delivery). Apparently all files on the whole network were encrypted, which included all recent backups, and their business critical database. Their IT guy spent a day researching the issue, and apparently the only practical advice found was to pay the £250 ransom. They did so (getting hold of the bitcoins was an “adventure”) and fortunately their files were duly decrypted as promised.

They concluded that the infected computer should be permanently quarantined and replaced. However, there were two further issues which none of the online information pages had mentioned.

1. The decrypted database could not be opened; it was reported to be corrupted. They were forced to purchase a third party repair product. Luckily this worked, but it also recovered all the old deleted records, so a lot more computer work was then needed.

2. At some point during this attack, the contents of the database must have been stolen via the Internet. A couple of days after the incident, a series of very dodgy SMS messages were sent to private mobile phone numbers which were only held in that database. This included staff and customers, who, therefore, had to be informed of the theft of some very private personal details, and advised on defensive action. The industry regulators and the Data Protection Agency also had to be informed, of course.

All in all, substantial expense and disruption, and a huge amount of damage to the business, caused by the careless opening of an apparently plausible attachment. This episode also underlines the advantage of rotational backups onto removable media.

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Help to improve our local broadband speed

I have extracted the data for Ewhurst, Ellens Green and some adjacent postcodes from the public consultation document referred to in the last article. The results are listed below. Superfast Surrey are essentially asking us to identify any addresses which do not have access to the service (download speed) listed. They will then target further improvements at the areas most in need, subject to available funding and BDUK (and thus EU) approval. So, please send me details of any address you believe does not have access to the service listed, or is in the Parish but is not listed. If you receive this article by email, then please simply reply to the email, otherwise use the web site Contact page.

Postcode Available service Cabinet
GU6 7DH Under 15 Mbps 6
GU6 7DJ 30+ Mbps 6
GU6 7DL Under 15 Mbps 6
GU6 7DP 15 – 29 Mbps 6
GU6 7DR 15 – 29 Mbps 6
GU6 7DS 30+ Mbps 6
GU6 7DT 15 – 29 Mbps 6
GU6 7DU 30+ Mbps 6
GU6 7DW 30+ Mbps 6
GU6 7EY 30+ Mbps 6
GU6 7FL 30+ Mbps 20
GU6 7HG 15 – 29 Mbps 6
GU6 7NG Under 15 Mbps 6
GU6 7NH Under 15 Mbps 6, 20
GU6 7NJ Under 15 Mbps 6, 20
GU6 7NL Under 15 Mbps 6, 20
GU6 7NN Under 15 Mbps 6, 20
GU6 7NP Under 15 Mbps 20
GU6 7NR Under 15 Mbps 20
GU6 7NS Under 15 Mbps 20
GU6 7NT Under 15 Mbps 20
GU6 7NW Under 15 Mbps 20
GU6 7PB 30+ Mbps 20
GU6 7PE 30+ Mbps 20
GU6 7PF 15 – 29 Mbps 20
GU6 7PG 30+ Mbps 20
GU6 7PJ 15 – 29 Mbps 20
GU6 7PL 15 – 29 Mbps 20
GU6 7PN 15 – 29 Mbps 20
GU6 7PP Under 15 Mbps 20
GU6 7PQ 30+ Mbps 20
GU6 7PT 15 – 29 Mbps 19
GU6 7PU 15 – 29 Mbps 19
GU6 7PW 15 – 29 Mbps 20
GU6 7PX Under 15 Mbps 19
GU6 7PY 15 – 29 Mbps 19
GU6 7PZ 15 – 29 Mbps 19
GU6 7QA 30+ Mbps 19, 20
GU6 7QB 30+ Mbps 20
GU6 7QD 30+ Mbps 20
GU6 7QF 15 – 29 Mbps 20
GU6 7QG 15 – 29 Mbps 20
GU6 7QH 15 – 29 Mbps 20
GU6 7QJ 15 – 29 Mbps 20
GU6 7QL 15 – 29 Mbps 20
GU6 7QN 30+ Mbps 19, 20
GU6 7QP 30+ Mbps 19
GU6 7QQ 30+ Mbps 20
GU6 7QR 30+ Mbps 19
GU6 7QS 30+ Mbps 20
GU6 7QT 30+ Mbps 20
GU6 7QU 30+ Mbps 18
GU6 7QW 15 – 29 Mbps 19
GU6 7QY Under 15 Mbps 19
GU6 7QZ 30+ Mbps 19
GU6 7RA 30+ Mbps 19
GU6 7RB 30+ Mbps 19
GU6 7RD 30+ Mbps 19
GU6 7RE 30+ Mbps 19
GU6 7RF 30+ Mbps 19
GU6 7RG 30+ Mbps 19
GU6 7RH 30+ Mbps 19, 20
GU6 7RJ 30+ Mbps 19
GU6 7RL 30+ Mbps 19
GU6 7RN 30+ Mbps 19
GU6 7RP 30+ Mbps 18
GU6 7RQ 30+ Mbps 19
GU6 7RR 30+ Mbps 18
GU6 7RS 30+ Mbps 18
GU6 7RT Under 15 Mbps 18, 19
GU6 7RU 30+ Mbps 18
GU6 7RW 30+ Mbps 18, 19
GU6 7RX 30+ Mbps 19, 20
GU6 7RY 30+ Mbps 19
GU6 7SA 15 – 29 Mbps 19
GU6 7SB 30+ Mbps 19
GU6 7SE 15 – 29 Mbps 18
GU6 7SG 30+ Mbps 18
GU6 7SJ Under 15 Mbps 20
GU6 7SL 15 – 29 Mbps 20
GU6 7SN Under 15 Mbps 18, 20
GU6 7SP Under 15 Mbps 18
GU6 7SQ Under 15 Mbps 18
GU6 7SR Under 15 Mbps 18
GU6 7SS 30+ Mbps 19
GU6 7SW Under 15 Mbps 18
GU6 7UN Under 15 Mbps 6
GU6 8EE Under 15 Mbps 18
GU6 8SH 30+ Mbps 6
RH12 3AR Under 15 Mbps R2
RH12 3AS Under 15 Mbps R2
RH12 3AW Under 15 Mbps R2
RH5 5RJ 15 – 29 Mbps OH1
RH5 5RL 15 – 29 Mbps OH1
RH5 6NS Under 15 Mbps 20
RH5 6NT Under 15 Mbps 20
RH5 6NU Under 15 Mbps 20
RH5 6NX Under 15 Mbps 20

Thank you.

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Superfast Surrey State Aid Public Consultation

Finally, having been delayed since last autumn, the consultation has just been announced. I have not had a chance to look at it myself yet, but wanted to get the link out right away, since it only runs for one month.

superfastsurrey.org.uk/superfast-surrey-state-aid-public-consultation

Posted in Announcements, BDUK, SCC Broadband Project | 1 Comment

Broadband in the Neighbourhood Plan

Today is the closing date for Ewhurst and Ellens Green Neighbourhood Plan Survey entries. These can be completed online at the link below. Question 12 asks you to rate the broadband infrastructure to your household, and question 14 provides a box for you to suggest improvements to be included in the plan, such as FTTP. Please help us to prove there is demand for the service in our Parish! In case you missed it last week, I have added the link to an excellent BBC report on a community led ultrafast broadband installation.

Link to Neighbourhood Plan Survey

Neighbourhood FTTP Proposals

BBC Video report on community FTTP (click the tractor!)

Posted in Announcements, Key Documents | 8 Comments

Superfast Surrey Statement

I have just received the following statement on the latest position from Superfast Surrey, following completion of the first stage of the OMR.

“Surrey County Council has now finished the main phase of its Superfast Surrey Broadband programme to bring fibre broadband to those areas in the county not included in commercial roll outs.

In December 2014 it was decided that before any further decisions could be made with regards to the outcome of slow speeds review, the Superfast Surrey team had to focus on the completion of the main phase of the contract and identify options for using any remaining funds to enable a decision to be made on the future scope of the programme. Options were developed that not only acknowledged Openreach’s analysis of premises with slow speeds in the Superfast Surrey deployment area but also took into account feedback from residents and businesses in the commercial rollout area that were not covered by the fibre network or who were on slow speeds.

As a result, and to ensure that Surrey County Council fully understands the extent of the remaining challenge, Surrey County Council has now embarked on an Open Market Review (OMR). This is the only way to establish a clear understanding of the latest position regarding existing and planned fibre coverage throughout the county. The review will identify all premises throughout Surrey without a fibre broadband connection or those covered by the fibre network but unable to access a fibre service.

Surrey County Council will be seeking State Aid Approval for plans to further extend broadband coverage across the County within the constraints of available funding following a process laid down by Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK).

The first stage of the OMR, which involved requesting current and future broadband coverage information from existing infrastructure providers has finished and the checking process has now commenced. This will take a number of weeks and once the broadband coverage and speed responses are analysed, a map will be produced and uploaded to the Superfast Surrey website as part of the public consultation process. This stage, which is likely to be during Autumn 2015, will be the opportunity for residents, businesses as well as any other infrastructure providers to contact the Superfast Surrey team by email to provide additional information that may further inform the understanding of broadband coverage across the County.

Prior to this stage in the OMR process, any information submitted by members of the community relating to broadband in their areas will be retained for consideration as part of the public consultation process.

Following the public consultation phase, the Superfast Surrey team will then agree with BT Group, as part of the existing contract and within the constraints of available funding, how to target those areas identified as not having current or proposed broadband coverage or access to download speeds of 15 Mbps or above. The proposed deployment must be signed off by Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) as being compliant with State Aid Funding regulations before any deployment can commence.

The OMR, analysis of responses, mapping, public consultation and development of a new deployment plan will take many months and whether or not residents who are currently unable to access a fibre service will benefit from any subsequent deployment will not be known until the above process is completed.

If residents or businesses are not keen to wait for the outcome of the OMR, options could be to look at satellite services or for businesses to consider a Fibre on Demand Service. The third option may be for communities to contact Openreach and collectively fund a community initiative. There is already an established process in place via the Openreach website for enquiries from residents who are interested in investigating options for self-funded initiatives. It is not possible to obtain a quotation or speak to an Openreach representative without following this process due to the significant amount of administration and number of different variables that need to be considered. This form (http://www.superfast-openreach.co.uk/faq/contact-us-form.aspx) would need to be completed with the community representative’s details. The Details of Enquiry box should include a description of how many residents would be interested in helping fund the initiative and installation etc and needs to include a list of all the names and landline phone numbers of those interested in funding the initiative. It is very important that details regarding all interested parties are included on the form. Once the form has been submitted, Openreach would be in touch to discuss this in more detail.”

I have queried the recommendation of “Fibre on Demand”, since as far as I know this product is not currently available, and no availability date has been announced. I also asked why wireless options other than satellite are not mentioned. Please contact me if you are considering a community initiative, since I have further important information on this.

Posted in SCC Broadband Project | 7 Comments

Contract Renewal

A couple of people have come to the end of their 18 month “BT Infinity” contracts recently, and asked whether they should switch ISP. BT’s reputation as an ADSL service provider was pretty poor, so I usually say “definitely”. But I noticed a few reports that their FTTC service may be better, so I did some research.

I found that BT are doing much better in the speed rankings these days, but I suspect this is entirely due to clever marketing of the BT Infinity products. Joe Public has been led to believe that “Superfast fibre broadband” is exclusively from BT, or that BT Infinity is superior to “fibre broadband” from other ISPs. It seems that I am having to correct these misapprehensions whenever I talk about FTTC. With attractive packages, expensive advertising, and a huge existing customer base, there’s no doubt that BT Infinity is selling extremely well.

Now the cunning part is that BT Infinity is only available on lines which can achieve 15 Mbps, and their very low profile alternative product for slower FTTC connections is poor value. So most of the slower and problematic connections go to other ISPs. Also bearing in mind that FTTC is way faster than ADSL on average, and that speed tests usually combine both, result comparisons are now virtually meaningless. They no longer bear any relation to ISP performance where it matters; for example in contention and congestion management.

For many people, customer service is by far the most important factor, so I was interested to read about this new “Which?” consumer survey. So, what to do? I recommend starting by reading this excellent summary from ISPreview. To get bang up to date, ThinkBroadband base their ISP chart on the monthly ratings from their huge subscriber base, keep track of the latest package offers, and provide detailed mapping of statistics.

Finally, if you are inclined to renew your existing contract, don’t forget that you can probably negotiate a lower price if you point out you could save money by going elsewhere.

Posted in FAQ, Information | 1 Comment

Email Scam Warning

A number of people from or associated with Ewhurst have received the following scam email today:

Subject: Terrible News

I really hope you get this quickly. I could not inform anyone about our trip, because it was impromptu. we had to be in Ukraine for a program. The program was successful, but our journey has turned sour. we misplaced our wallet and Mobile on our way back to the hotel we lodge in after we went for sight seeing. The wallet contained all the valuables we had. Now our passport is in custody of the hotel management pending when we make payment.

I am sorry if i am inconveniencing you, but i have only very few people to run to now. i will be indeed very grateful if i can get a short term loan from you.this will enable me sort our hotel bills and get my sorry self back home. I will really appreciate whatever you can afford in assisting me with. I promise to refund it in full as soon as soon as I return. let me know if you can be of any assistance. Please, let me know soonest.

Be aware that replies to this email are directed to the scammer, and not to the apparent sender.

Posted in Announcements | 1 Comment

Superfast Surrey – Scrutiny of Performance

Thanks to Phil for spotting an internal report to the SCC Overview & Scrutiny Committee for their meeting on 23rd April. Such reports are made available on the SCC web site, but are not generally brought to public attention. It contains far more detail than any Press Release.

The report specifies the project targets as 98.6% (network coverage) and 93.9% (15+ Mbps), but does not explain the discrepancy with the previously published targets. It confirms that there have been a number of changes to the count of premises included in the Intervention Area (IA), but the overall effect is claimed to be an increase in “fibre network” coverage. Once the “more difficult” properties are connected, this is reported to represent 99.3%. The much more meaningful figure for availability of 15+ Mbps service is said to be impossible to calculate “until the conclusion of all delivery”.

“Take up” is reported to be high, at 27%, thanks in part to effective marketing by the team. As stipulated by BDUK; “Claw-back allows money to be returned and reinvested into adding further coverage once a certain percentage of take-up has been achieved.”

“The contract recognises that, although covered by the fibre network, up to 6.1% of the premises within the IA may not be able to access speeds of 15 Mbps or more equating to approximately 5,000 premises. The principle reason for these slower speeds is the length of the telephone line between the cabinet and the property and due to the distribution of Openreach cabinets, this issue is generally more prevalent in the more rural areas of the county.”

Only 46 premises have been formally excluded (and perhaps advised to use a satellite service), whilst 533 are still under review. This compares favourably to the 1,200 estimated to be problematic at the start.

Another surprise is the admission that “a number of cabinets are no longer being upgraded”. This refers to cabinets which were to be included in the Commercial roll-out. I am aware of a couple of cabinets potentially in this category, where activists were able to reverse BT’s decision by demonstrating sufficient demand for FTTC. I do not currently have details of the cabinets which have been excluded, but perhaps those affected could still get the upgrade if there enough are willing to register their interest. Another option is community “gap funding”, but more on that in a future article.

The SCC report includes an acknowledgement of “the prevalence of premises with slow speeds due to long telephone lines” in the Commercial area, including Ewhurst. The report reiterates that “Due to state aid funding regulations, the Superfast Surrey Programme is not permitted to address these issues because the do not fall within the existing IA. Surrey County Council has no reliable data to understand the extent of the issues identified.”

Reporting on the, as yet unknown, “remaining funds”, we thankfully hear that the intention is now to “address coverage and speeds across Surrey”. There follows a section on the forthcoming OMR, which we covered last month. The report ends with coverage figures, cabinet counts, and target ratios by Borough.

Click here to download the full report

Posted in BDUK, FTTC Roll-out, SCC Broadband Project | 13 Comments

Surrey County Council’s new broadband Open Market Review

Superfast Surrey have just published their new “Request for information on broadband infrastructure provision” at superfastsurrey.org.uk. This paves the way for a Public Consultation, due to take place in the Autumn, which will help determine any further public investment in “superfast” broadband in Surrey.

The document appears to retrospectively downgrade the targets for the Superfast Surrey project, quoting “98.6% of those premises were to be connected to the fibre network”, previously 99.7%; and “93.9% of premises connected to the fibre network as part of the Superfast Surrey project to be able to access minimum download speeds of 15Mbps”, previously 94.6%. This may perhaps be explained by an increase in the number of premises in Surrey, quoted at “506,032 premises, of which 482,302 are residential and 23,730 are non-residential. In addition there are 772 Surrey premises in postcodes that are split across other counties.” Estimates I have seen previously have been closer to 450,000. This may also tie in with evidence that some cabinets were completely missed off the original project lists. Since BT blocked publication of the relevant section of their contract with SCC, we cannot know whether the revised percentages reflect a breach.

Surrey County Council Open Market Review

European Commission Decision on State aid – BDUK

State aid – Technology Guidelines

David Cooper’s detailed analysis of actual coverage estimates that about 90% of premises in the intervention area could possibly meet the target of 15+ Mbps in December 2014.

Summary of resultsDetailed resultsLinks to correspondence

Today is your last chance to support another Surrey community, Mickleham, who are also too far from their cabinet to order a “fibre” service. Click here to add your name - Read more

At least one such Surrey community have lost patience and agreed to pay for their own FTTC cabinets. Read the Hydestile, Hydon Heath and Feathercombe story here

Posted in BDUK, FTTC Roll-out, Other Broadband Projects, SCC Broadband Project | 2 Comments

SCC Mandate for Ewhurst

I have received a statement from Superfast Surrey which indicates that the team finally has the authority to work with areas which are part of BT’s commercial roll-out, including Ewhurst. However, limited funds and the Open Market Review (OMR) timetable mean that those of us on long lines will have a protracted wait for any news of further improvements down this route. It is likely that the next priority will be those still below 2 Mbps, and these may well use up all available resources.

“With regards to your query, Surrey County Council has finished the main phase of its Superfast Surrey Broadband programme to bring fibre broadband to those areas in the county not included in commercial roll outs. Since the last programme update in December, the programme has extended the technology to an additional 4,000 premises bringing high-speed fibre coverage to more than 82,000 homes and businesses across the county. This roll out has been delivered at an amazing rate of nearly 200 homes and businesses per working day – transforming lives across the county, and according to BT Openreach figures, making Surrey the best connected county in Great Britain.

As well as a high proportion of businesses and residents throughout Surrey being able to achieve superfast speeds as part of the programme, pushing the fibre broadband network out as far as possible across the county will enable local communities, residents and businesses to take advantage of future innovations, technology developments and enhancements as they become available.

Whilst celebrating this achievement and the success of the programme it has been recognised that there is still work going on as part of this contract to reach those remaining premises located in the more technically challenging and harder to reach places of the county. This is not therefore, the end of the story and the Council would like to do more.

In December, the Superfast Surrey team were asked to undertake a programme review. As this has progressed and alongside feedback from key stakeholders, the team have been made very well aware of the small percentage of premises still unable to access a fibre broadband service. This review, and the on-going Openreach analysis of residents experiencing slower speeds due to long line lengths, has highlighted that these premises are based not only in the original Superfast Surrey programme intervention area, but also in areas extending across parts of Surrey which were originally included in commercial providers’ plans.

As a result, and to understand the full scope of the remaining challenge, the Superfast Surrey team will run a further investigation known as an Open Market Review (OMR). This is the only way that Surrey County Council can establish a clear understanding of the latest position regarding existing and planned commercial services, alongside the investment in fibre broadband services that has been achieved through the Superfast Surrey programme. The results will be used to identify how to prioritise the use of any remaining funds to address issues of broadband coverage and speed across the County.

The OMR has to follow a strict government timetable which is not within Surrey County Council’s control. This process involves commercial consultation, public consultation, analysis and mapping whilst taking into account EU State Aid regulations. Consequently it is unlikely that there will be any update before early Autumn.

With limited budgets combined with high demand for council funded services across the County Surrey County Council is conscious that there is no quick fix solution, however the council remains committed to working towards extending fibre broadband services to as many residents and businesses as economically possible.”

Meanwhile, I see that the house where I used to live, in Alfold, now has “native” FTTP available, giving the residents the option of 330 Mbps download and 30 Mbps upload. Phil also reports a lot of fibre laying activity in his area (off the Hindhead and Haslemere exchanges), which is not for FTTC cabinets, so must be for rural FTTP/FTTH.

Posted in SCC Broadband Project | 2 Comments