“Superfast” Broadband now available to most of Ewhurst (19/10/2012) – a brief summary from ESHBB (Ewhurst & Surrey Hills Broadband)
The long wait is over for most Ewhurst Residents and Businesses as the new green cabinet 20 near the Bull’s Head was made available for orders today following cabinet 19 on Cranleigh Road last week. Cabinet 18 (at the junction of Plough Lane and the Horsham Road) and Cabinet 6 in Cranleigh (which will serve Barhatch Lane) will follow shortly.
Several orders to upgrade have already been placed by Residents with their ISP (Internet Service Providers such as Plusnet, BT, TalkTalk etc.) We are told that one resident has been advised by his ISP that he will achieve 69Mbps early November.
If you want to try it yourself, go to http://www.superfast-openreach.co.uk/ and follow the instructions!
A lot has happened since March 2010 when Ewhurst & Surrey Hills Broadband (ESHBB) was set up to achieve decent broadband for the village. Following a feasibility study by Rutland Communications paid for by local residents, we agreed that the prime solution was to replace the slow copper wires feeding Ewhurst with fibre optic cable to new cabinets (Fibre To The Cabinet, FTTC) serving all users in Ewhurst. It was acknowledged that this might not upgrade outlying residents to an acceptable speed but that this secondary problem could be tackled only after identifying the scale of that problem after Ewhurst was upgraded to FTTC.
BT advised that they would not even consider upgrading Ewhurst or Cranleigh until 2018 at the earliest. This was not acceptable to us.
So we decided to apply for a grant available through SEEDA and obtained a quotation from Vtesse for a purpose built FTTC system. No other organisations were willing to quote including BT and Virgin.
Based on Vtesse quotation, a grant of £250,000 was applied for, which was duly approved.
The conditions that SEEDA imposed on ESHBB were onerous in the extreme and would have required a business to be set up to run the system with further costs. We were also required to stake the £250,000 and claim it back from SEEDA in stage payments. We found a very kind local resident to provide a bridging loan, but there were still many hurdles ahead.
BT subsequently around this time entered into a confidential agreement with SEEDA that they would now upgrade Ewhurst to FTTC in 2012 instead of 2018.
As a result SEEDA withdrew our grant offer as no public money would be required if BT did the work.
Without the £250k grant the Vtesse works could not happen so Chris Lyth and Mike Turner signed a non-disclosure agreement with BT in order to find out what was going on. The decision was made to maintain pressure on SEEDA/SCC/BT to ensure that BT completed their upgrade in 2012.
Mike maintained almost daily high-level contact with BT/Openreach and was assured that once the new FTTC cabinets were commissioned an assessment of the outlying problem areas would be made and that BDUK (a government body) together with Surrey County Council would ensure that funds were made available to ensure that “outliers” received a decent broadband service. Technology in this field is moving fast. Similar problems have been resolved elsewhere by installing extra mini cabinets or other devices and shortening the copper lengths to achieve better performance. Fibre to the premises/home (FTTP/H) will be available from mid 2013 for those willing to pay the premium.
By December 2012 the extent of the problem areas will be fully known and steps can then be taken to rectify these problems. In fact ESHBB have recently been invited to attend a high level meeting with SCC to discuss the way forward.
In the meantime, anyone interested in obtaining these new services should contact their ISP as soon as possible to see if the new services are available to them and at what cost for what level of service. A list of providers is available at http://www.superfast-openreach.co.uk; just select the provider that you wish to use and they will do the rest.