Pitch Hill area network

After the successful meeting at the Ewhurst village hall in November, a small steering group of Pitch Hill Residents, met with Chris Box to take matters forward.

Various routes were discussed and planned for and routes were walked to check feasibility and eventually a route was settled on and residents around the route were contacted and discussed permissions etc. This route was to come up Pitch Hill between Barhatch Lane and Shere Road, along Coneyhurst Road and up Pitch Hill. Box is ready to start the digging and has secured the route for most of the way but needs the final approval of some of the landowners for the final stretch north.

As a result of this wait Box has begun works in other parts of the country and Pitch Hill Broadband residents steering group are now investigating alternative route options potentially coming across from the East toward Coneyhurst Lane and then up the hill.

Local Pitch Hill residents in the Steering Group have given a lot of time and been extremely active with Box behind the scenes to get things moving and things are on the brink of happening. This is the best chance that Pitch Hill has to get internet fibre and if we lose this opportunity we will have status quo internet for years to come.

Should anyone want any information please write to the steering group via Jeannie Cameron at pitchhillbroadband@gmail.com

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Ellens Green, Somersbury Lane and B2128

The Box pure fibre service is now live along the whole of Somersbury Lane, and work has progressed up to Pollingfold Manor on the B2128, awaiting SCC inspection before work starts on the next stretch up towards Furzen Lane.

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Gadbridge Lane and GU6 7SA extension

According to the last report from Chris, Boxcom is still waiting for permission from Waverly Council for the fibre to cross The Green. Apparently Val Henry has promised a resident that she will investigate and assist if possible.

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Summer review

The summer holiday finally provides an opportunity to write, various family matters having consumed my available time and energy since January. Meanwhile, our Box Broadband pure fibre 200 Mbps connection has efficiently worked exactly as hoped; fast and reliable.

We have had quite a few power cuts over these seven months, and had I time to purchase and install a UPS, it would have avoided any interruption to the service. As it is, sometimes the connection has recovered by itself after a cut, but other times we had to reset the router, perhaps because the power “spikes” as it comes back on. Once reset, connection speed has never decreased, unlike previous services from BT Openreach.

One change I did find time for was the switch to VoIP, so that we could terminate the “copper” phone line rental, and thus bring total monthly costs back to their previous level. We wanted to keep our landline number, and worked out that usage based call charges will be cheaper for us than the call inclusive package offered by Vonage. I also felt confident enough to configure VoIP myself, so did not really need the higher level of customer support available when taking Vonage via the Box web link. I looked at Voipfone and Sipgate offerings, and chose Voipfone because they are UK based and responded to all my questions very quickly and helpfully. But Sipgate does work out cheaper for almost identical service otherwise, and at least two locals are happily using it.

I also had to decide whether to buy a device to interface our existing DECT phones to the Box router, or to buy new phones designed for VoIP. Since our existing phones are a few years old and have some less than ideal features, we decided to buy two new Gigaset C430HX handsets and N300IP VoIP base station from VoIPon. The result is a far more capable phone system. For example, we can take two calls at the same time, voice messages are automatically forwarded by email, and I can take or make “landline” calls on my mobile phone when away from home, thus giving the impression of working from home as usual (since the VoIP caller ID is set to our landline number).

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Six months on with Box Broadband

It’s now over six months since we had our internet upgraded to full fibre with Box, and David has asked me to write about my experience. Overall, it’s been great, whilst it’s hard to pin point one thing, it is the whole faster internet package that just makes modern life easier. The service has been very reliable, a couple of small outages at the beginning during the beta testing phase but since then it’s been functioning perfectly. I will pick out some of the capabilities that make Box so good for our family.

When working, I am often required to download very large files. These only become available at 7am for the next working day, and are occasionally updated during the UK working morning. Previously, when working from home, I would set the download off when I woke up, and then would have it to work with, maybe, by mid-day. With Box, it takes 5 minutes – and if I bothered to plug my computer into network cable, rather than Wi-Fi, it would be quicker still! Furthermore, it means that if both my wife and I are working from home, (e.g. to do child care shifts when a child is off school sick, or for holiday) we are able to do it without competing for internet bandwidth.

We have also completely swapped away from BT as our phone provider. If I was in an area where we actually had a mobile signal, I would have just used those, but as mobile coverage in our house is non-existent we still needed a landline. However, some years ago, I chose a 3rd party VoIP provider and connected some VoIP phones in the house to enable us to call abroad for less than BT rates. This VoIP provider has a greatly enhanced service compared to BT – we now get missed call notifications and answer phone messages delivered by email, so no longer have to wait to get home before finding out that someone called us. Whilst we did have this before Box, it required quite a lot of manual setup due to the slow internet speed.

We also appreciate the internet connection speed at home when we are not there. I can remotely drop into our cameras to check around the house, for example, I did this to check that a parcel had been picked up by a courier:

courier

In addition, I would like to also mention that whilst we were on holiday, our power tripped. Seeing that we had lost internet connection for a while, Box telephoned and then emailed me to check that all was ok. I would never had got that level of care from our previous ISP!

Oh, and of course, video streaming has become a smooth affair, no longer do I ever see the spinning disc whilst waiting for iPlayer or a film to download, and am now able to stream UHD contents which isn’t possible unless the internet connection gets at least 20-25Mbps.

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Demonstration Open Day on Saturday

Now that our new pure fibre communications network is LIVE, Box Broadband will be demonstrating their Ultrafast broadband services this Saturday; all are welcome:

Saturday 27th January 2018
10am to 4pm
Walliswood Village Hall
Froggetts Lane
Walliswood RH5 5RJ

 

Here is some more of the feedback I have received from users of the first connections:

  • “The difference is truly amazing … at 100 Mbps”
  • “Phone wifi is a solid 200 Mbps up and down”
  • “Watched UHD TV from Amazon (which consumes 17 Mbps)”
  • “Great to backup 60 GB of photos in a little over an hour”
  • “VOIP calls are noticeably lower latency”
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Initial Test Results

I have now been using a Box Broadband test connection (installed by Boxcom) for a couple of days. During this test phase we expect variable speed test results; most have been between 100 and 300 Mbps on my equipment. The overall user experience is a huge improvement of course. Here are the differences I have noticed so far:

  • Emails with large attachments download in less than a second
  • Upload speeds are similar to downloads
  • Complex web pages appear in full almost immediately
  • Uploading a new web site took seconds rather than minutes
  • Podcasts download instantly to my phone
  • Connecting to client networks is faster and more stable
  • Files transfer to and from clients in a fraction of the time
  • Videos start to play immediately
  • Being online is just much more enjoyable and stress levels have reduced!

Our new Calix 844G router from Box is located centrally, and its superior Wi-Fi signal covers the whole house at “superfast” speed without boosters or extenders, so the place now looks tidier. The Boxcom engineer took great care to hide cables and install the router exactly as we wanted. Speeds over Wi-Fi are now limited by the devices; tests are reporting 30 to 50 Mbps on my phone and 30 to 110 Mbps on a laptop.

Other early testers have commented:

  • “Very much enjoying being able to see and hear people properly in meetings.”
  • “What a difference!”

We had a couple of brief power cuts yesterday (due to storm damage I expect); the connection came back up very quickly and with no adverse side effects. I now need to get a small UPS (battery backup power supply) for the router so that power cuts do not affect our connection at all.

New customer installations will proceed as fast as possible, and many more should be enjoying this futureproof service over the next week. Please let me know who you are and how you get on. Enjoy!

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Planned connection dates

I am informed that selected household connections will be tested next week, and all being well, the Box Broadband service will formally commence at 8am on Monday 22nd.

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January Open Day Postponed

Some of the configuration work by a service provider has been delayed due to the holidays, so it is not yet possible to demonstrate an end user connection. Therefore, the January Open Day has been postponed. A new date has not yet been booked. Box Broadband have issued the following statement.

The open day at the Walliswood Village Hall, booked for Saturday 6th Jan, will now be rescheduled for later in January, the new date will be confirmed over the next few days.

We are in the final stages of configuring the network, initial customer connections will be completed next week.

BOX Engineers will be busy over the coming days, completing network fibre optic splicing and testing in preparation of connecting our first customers onto our brand new fibre optic broadband network.

Looking forward to an ultrafast 2018!

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Box Cabinet 1 is Online

The fibre connection to the Bridgehead Network cabinet at Walliswood Village Hall finally lit up late on Friday afternoon, and preliminary testing confirmed a working connection to the National network. Testing and configuration work will continue next week, and the village hall connection should be operational in time for demonstration at the Open Day on 6th January. Customer connections are now expected to commence in the second or third week of January.

Digging in Lower Breache Road has been obstructed by huge blocks of concrete, apparently from WW2 fortifications, but is now close to completion. The Boxcom team plan to resume work in Somersbury Lane next month.

Merry Christmas to all from Brook Place, and congratulations to the whole BOX Broadband team!

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Lower Breache Road and Somersbury Lane

A number of residents in Lower Breache Road have kindly helped with financing, and SCC have permitted works here to proceed before Christmas. The fibre installation on private land adjacent to Somersbury Lane is now complete, and we hope to finish Lower Breache Road around the end of the year, before returning to the lower section of Somersbury Lane early in January.

Significant progress has been made on the final stages of the national network connection in the last week or so, but with the holiday season upon us, and likelihood of adverse weather conditions, it remains uncertain whether the Walliswood Village Hall Open Day demonstration will proceed on 6th January.

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Network build progress

The top section of Somersbury Lane is now complete and ready for inspection by SCC. Due to the holiday period, the work on the lower section will start in early January. Meanwhile the Boxcom team have started the installation of fibre right into customer premises, and have some further work to do on private land. The process of connection to the national network is proving more complex and time consuming than Boxcom have experienced on previous projects. Whilst very frustrating for those of us with urgent need for better service, one positive consequence is that the initial coverage will now be much more extensive. This means that more homes and businesses will be connected at their choice of 50, 200 or 1000 Mbps (upload as well as download) when the network first goes live.

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Next Open Day

The Box Broadband Open Day in Walliswood Village Hall has been postponed. Originally booked for 9th December, Box now plan to hold the event once they can demonstrate a working pure fibre connection in the hall. This could possibly be on Saturday 6th January, if there are no further delays.

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November Open Day Report

Jeannie reports that the Pitch Hill zone meeting went very well and the level of interest seemed to be sufficient to make pure fibre broadband in that area viable. 19 people registered while at the meeting and others have done so online. The next step is to plan the routes that the network will include. Jeannie will continue to help co-ordinate the locals on and around Pitch Hill. Box Broadband staff have also commented that the Open Day event was a huge success and everything went to plan.

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“Pitch Hill” Zone

Whilst the Pure Fibre Broadband Open Day on Saturday is for everyone, there will be a zone set aside residents and businesses on and around Pitch Hill. Jeannie Cameron, who is coordinating local interest and cooperation for the area, will attend from 10.30am to at least 12.30pm. This will be a chance to discuss the issues together with Box staff, and perhaps some strategic planning.

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Open Day on Saturday 18th November

Box Broadband have booked the EYSC from 10am to 4pm on Saturday 18th November, and this will now be an Open Day for anyone interested. They are particularly keen to speak to those from surrounding areas who need better service. The venue will include a special area for Pitch Hill.

Box staff will also be talking about the construction to date, and the areas already covered by existing plans. They will demonstrate how the service will be connected from the verge into the home or business, and the router. There will be a splicer demonstration and an interactive board. Details on the Vonage telephone packages and Roku box or streaming stick for TV services will be available.

10am – 4pm
Saturday 18th November 2017
EYSC
Broomers Lane
The Street
Ewhurst GU6 7RD

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Somersbury Lane

Boxcom are making good progress in Somersbury Lane, working down from Horsham Lane, and have reached the vicinity of CCM Vehicle Service, Repairs & MOT. More information and map on the Box Blog.

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Pitch Hill Meeting

Box Broadband have organised a meeting for residents and businesses on and around Pitch Hill. More details later, but please put the date in your diary. It will be at the EYSC, Broomers Lane, The Street, Ewhurst GU6 7PX on Saturday 18th November between 10am and 4pm.

 

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Somersbury Lane plans

Box Broadband have announced the completion of works in Horsham Lane/Road and the coverage map has been updated to show this. The Boxcom team will work on private land next week. Digging in Somersbury Lane is scheduled to start on 30th October, once again with the help of funding from residents who will benefit.

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Horsham Lane/Horsham Road Works Day 10

The works in Horsham Lane have presented several challenges, not least the remains of the Roman road obstructing the “mole” at all road crossings. This SCC roadworks permit is also rather restrictive, possibly due to the Thames Water activity in the same area, so the Boxcom team have so far concentrated on the main excavation and infrastructure, to complete this within the permitted dates. Next week they will return to do the smaller jobs and tidy up. Unfortunately the recent rain has inevitably created a lot of very sticky clay mud, so please be patient and do what you can to help.

Three residents have kindly plugged the funding gap for the 400m segment south of Froggetts Lane (towards Rowhook), and Boxcom plan to start work on this next week as well. Preparation for Somersbury Lane is progressing well.

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