Surrey County Council have included short video extracts of the presentation in their Surrey News article here. This includes a statement of BT’s contractual commitment from their Managing Director of Next Generation Access; Bill Murphy, who confirms that “We will deliver fibre based programme to 99.7% of the premises in Surrey.” This old trick of using a precise sounding number alongside an extremely vague objective, gets us no closer to understanding what the contract will deliver for those many premises which are remote from their street cabinet. The video also features Surrey’s Deputy Leader, Peter Martin, who stressed the importance of delivering “superfast” broadband to business, but again failed to define any minimum level of service.
The slides presented by Lucie Glenday (Superfast Surrey Programme Director, Surrey County Council), Clive Richardson (Director of Public Affairs and Research, Go on UK), and Bill Murphy (Managing Director NGA, BT Group), can be viewed at superfastsurrey.org.uk. Mr Murphy’s presentation may reveal the true gulf between what SCC thought they were buying on our behalf, and what BT have actually committed to. Compare BT’s “The ambition of the project is to deliver a fibre based broadband service to everyone in the county” with the earlier SCC “ambition” wording in the quote below. We have seen “fibre” (FTTC) connections as slow as 1 Mbps, and some people connected to a “fibre enabled” cabinet cannot order a FTTC service at all.
BT’s own press release on the event can be read here. A footnote within the press release reveals that FTTC coverage will be extended in Cranleigh, and we are told that this means running fibre to street cabinets which were excluded from the commercial roll-out; specifically cabinets 7, 15, 26, 27 and 28. Using the SCC postcode checker we can see that the area concerned includes GU6 7DH Amlets Lane, GU6 7DU Copse Edge, GU6 7FN & GU6 7FP Roberts Way, GU6 7FQ Nuttall Gardens, GU6 7LR Grove Close, GU6 7LB & GU6 7LH Grove Road, GU6 7JR Oak Grove, GU6 7LA Southwood Chase, GU6 7LP Wildwood Close, GU6 8EE & GU6 8EF & GU6 8EG & GU6 8EQ Baynards Park, GU6 8EH & GU6 8EJ Horsham Road, and many others. Link to ThinkBroadband article
David Cooper reports that the speed issue came up during the question and answer session, when a BT spokesman on the panel initially said the minimum would be 20 Mbps. The SCC people on the panel began to talk amongst themselves; then, later in the session, it came out that the minimum would in fact be 15 Mbps. The “time of day”, “server loading” and suchlike were quoted as the reason for the reduction. The audience sensed the uncertainty and, in particular, there was objection from a member of the audience who had previously raised the speed issue at the Haslemere meeting, and was there promised a minimum of 20 Mbps. David’s question was the final one and he asked what had happened to “greater than 24Mbps”, pointing out that this was still the definition on the SCC web site:
“The ambition was to secure future access to the fastest speeds possible, but in any case not below a minimum headline speed of 24 Mbps. This has been set to be consistent with existing superfast broadband services already available in the non-market failure areas of the county.”
After the meeting a SCC representative told David that the contracted speed was 15 Mbps, but neither BT nor SCC made any public commitment to improving speeds below this level. It seems we must continue to wait for clarity on this issue.
The launch event is covered in the single page March Newsletter from the SuperFast Broadband team.