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:
- Name, address and postcode
- Landline phone number
- Cabinet number (find this at www.dslchecker.bt.com)
- Current download speed (Mbps, check this at www.speedtest.net)
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.