Mike Turner, Communications officer on the Ewhurst Parish Council (EPC), with Alan Young, recently attended a meeting with BT Group, Openreach and Surrey County Council (SCC) representatives. Here it was confirmed that the recent installation of fibre services at all four cabinets means that Ewhurst will not be part of the plans to be announced by SCC on 21st February. Apparently some Cranleigh cabinets which are not included in the Openreach commercial roll-out have been “BDUK approved”, and so may be covered by the SCC announcement. EU State Aid Provisions currently prevent public money being spent on areas which have already benefited from private investment. Unfortunately this sensible safety mechanism currently seems not to accommodate those “outliers” too far from their cabinet to achieve satisfactory performance from a FTTC service. Until this shortcoming is resolved by the EU, the “outliers” must either rely on improvements funded by Openreach or pursue other avenues ourselves.
At the meeting it was also apparent that Openreach and SCC are now using 15 Mbps download as the threshold for satisfactory broadband performance. This represents a significant backwards step from the previously announced “superfast” speeds of at least 24 Mbps, but is in line with current Ofcom thinking. Unfortunately there is still no target for upload speed, rendering the “ambition” useless for many business development purposes.
Mike estimates that, by mid-January, about 12% of phone lines had already been signed up for a new “fibre” service on the three main Ewhurst cabinets, and most of these are now benefiting from “superfast” speeds over 24 Mbps and some over 70 Mbps. Mike was also assured that the existing four FTTC cabinets can be upgraded to accommodate all Ewhurst lines. Note that these cabinets are a different design to the Chilworth equivalents, where additional cabinets were needed to meet demand.
So that we can apply maximum pressure, those already using a “fibre” broadband service should please check its performance using the new BT Wholesale speed test at speedtest.btwholesale.com and get in touch if the result is below 15 Mbps. Others should please check their estimated speed with the updated BT Wholesale Availability Checker at www.dslchecker.bt.com/adsl/adslchecker.welcome and get in touch if “WBC FTTC” is not shown as available or if the “Downstream Line Rate” for “WBC FTTC” is below 15 Mbps. Note that this availability checker also now shows the cabinet number. We can help if you have any problems using these tools.
If you are reading this article in the subscription email from “Ewhurst Broadband” then you can reply to the email to get in touch with me, David Nye. Note that Walter is treating details supplied to him as confidential, so please do not assume that he will pass your details on to me or Mike Turner. Details sent to me will be passed on to BT Openreach via Mike if this may help improve Ewhurst services. Please remember to pass this request on to others who do not subscribe to these updates, and to encourage all “outliers” and anyone else with poor broadband performance to get in touch. Even if someone is not desperate for a faster service now, providing their details (e.g. phone number, postcode or road name and speed or availability result) will hopefully help their neighbours, and ensure availability when needed in future. Faster broadband also helps to sell houses and often increases their value.