Expansion of cabinets 19 and 20

We hope that “fibre” broadband orders are now being accepted again for lines connected to cabinet 19 following a two month suspension. BT Openreach have not provided a full explanation, but we believe that cabinets 19 and 20 have been subject to frequent “WBC FTTC not available” blocks since December last year, because Openreach ignored the data we supplied and initially allowed for only 64 connections per cabinet. In spite of regular protests from Walter that this was woefully inadequate, the underground ducting and cabling installed appears not to have allowed for sufficient expansion, so further excavation and installation work has been required in both cases. This has led to the long delays and inconvenience to residents. Unfortunately the BT availability checker does not indicate the true situation, which has led to many complaints and much confusion, and some have apparently given up in disgust.

It is unclear how much capacity is now available in each cabinet, and there is also some controversy about whether the existing cabinets can eventually provide sufficient FTTC connections for anyone requiring one. Meanwhile there are still a significant number who cannot obtain a “fibre” broadband service at all, because they are too far from the cabinet. It appears that orders are now blocked on any cabinet if the estimated download speed for WBC FTTC is below 2 Mbps. A list of those numbers we know about in Ewhurst has been sent to BT Openreach, but with no response so far.

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25 Responses to Expansion of cabinets 19 and 20

  1. Walter says:

    Although cabinet 19′s ordering status seems to have stabilised the situation with cabinet 20 is still in question. Note that BT might decide to accept orders but not able to complete them within the usual 2 to 3 week period. We have yet to establish that either cabinet has definitely been expanded either to a capacity of 200 or ideally 250 services. The Moon Hall Resident is still without a VDSL service since it was ordered around 2 December 2012.

  2. Walter says:

    Just a couple of status items for those interested.

    Confirming we still hope the MHR Resident will have the VDSL installation completed on 13 June 2013.

    We have been plotting the performance of a Peaslake Road resident’s speed which is deteriorating, as indeed BT Wholesale tell you when consulting their estimator. It is known that mixing the newer VDSL signals with older ADSL signals in a cable causes degradation of adjacent wires’ performance. Power cut-back logic is applied reducing cross-talk so it shares the available capacity amongst users. Although there are many causes of speed reduction, power cutback is a likely one. The sync speed example illustrated below demonstrates the degradation as more services are added. If you are fortunate to have a fast service then the lower sync speed isn’t too inconvenient, but for those impoverished at under 10 Mbps it does become a more serious issue. Sadly the VDSL design cannot avoid the laws of physics, whereas a full Fibre-To-The-Premises design is totally immune to such difficulties.

    16 March 2013 8.48 Mbps
    29 April 2013 7.91 Mbps
    13 May 2013 6.90 Mbps
    4 June 2013 6.35 Mbps

  3. David Nye says:

    Given that the capacity of cabinet 18 appears to have been expanded last month, the cross-talk issue described above may also explain the speed deterioration on my VDSL connection. BT Speed Test results at 11am:

    20/02/2013 – 4.7 Mbps
    15/04/2013 – 4.3 Mbps
    24/04/2013 – 3.5 Mbps
    07/06/2013 – 3.3 Mbps

    This compares to a pretty stable result of 1.7 Mbps from my ADSL connection for the previous year. The VDSL connection does seem to be more reliable, so far.

  4. Walter says:

    Here’s my latest news from over several weeks (entered here as it affects both cabinet 19 and 20)

    Following on from the mayhem reported by David Nye of crossed lines in lower Horsham Lane, probably caused by repairs of cable damage / theft, I am now aware of at least two phone and broadband faults coincidentally affecting those in the Glebe that had such shoddy sub-contractor VDSL installations earlier this year. We understand that some road works, not associated with the new ductwork in the Glebe, have probably damaged the cable feeding the northern side of The Glebe. It is possible that more users are affected too. Unfortunately the Openreach repair organisation has to tackle each line individually after each fault is reported. (Just as it was last year in Peaslake Road http://www.ewhurst-broadband.org.uk/?p=2751 ). Sadly the BT status system cannot yet associate the problems in the Glebe and still says for Phone and Broadband “Everything seems to be ok in your area” when it is abundantly clear this is not so. Could I please ask all who are suffering, and those who have yet to test their lines, to report their individual faults immediately if this has not yet been done.

    Another phone line fault to the west of the church was reported on a Zen supplied service on 26 June 2013 and was repaired quite efficiently by 2 July. It was caused by a temporary earlier repair as reported below, although there is no sign of the proper remedial works being started yet. During the works it caused a reduction in broadband speed down to 32 Mbps but has now increased to 36 Mbps, even though it started capped at the 40 Mbps tariff in February. It follows that VDSL line speeds must be closely examined after any line disturbance.

    02. Fault Fix:
    FAULT PROVED TO LENGTH OF CABLE BETWEEN DP 1066 AND JRC (Joint Pit) BELOW DP 1065,
    CABLE IN RUNNING IN DITCH AT SIDE OF RD AND ISN’T ARMOURED OR DUCTED, CABLE HAS BEEN DAMAGED AND REPAIRED TWICE IN THE PAST AND NOW TESTING EARTH ON ALL SPARES. NEW 60M DUCT REQUIRED BETWEEN JRC AND BOTTOM OF DP 1066, ALSO NEW DUCT NEEDS CONNECTING TO EXISTING SWEPT TEE THAT HAS BEEN LAYED TO NEW HOUSE. LINE TEMPORARY CLEARED AND TESTING OK AND PASSING PQT, NO CLEAN SPARES LEFT. 20 PAIR NEEDS TO REPLACE EXISTING 10 PAIR.

    Another fault to the east of the church on a BT supplied VDSL service has consumed a hideous amount of time due to significant intermittent line noise caused the service to be capped at only 15 Mbps. After three separate BT faults were raised and many calls to India the line is now stable but at a reduced sync speed of 28.93 Mbps even though the maximum was well over 40 Mbps.

    Now for two new Installations in cabinet 20. The 128 th service ordered around 2 December 2012 was at long long last connected on 10th July for a Moon Hall Road resident. The Openreach engineer complained that the line was still faulty with a bridge tap so he had to disconnect it from the lightning arrestor cable on pole 3 near Ride Way. (Something we have been requesting for many years and could well be affecting others still.) That service started at 14.92 Mbps but very thankfully has retrained only marginally down at 13.97 Mbps. The last subcontract installation is by comparison a horrible disaster. Sub contract engineers are not provided with the required test equipment to do a Pair Quality Test; so he left in blissful ignorance with the service connected at the maximum of 40 Mbps. That remained so for the next day but by 08:09 on day two the sync speed was a lousy 4.38 Mbps. Perhaps we need to involve trading standards to insist that all installations are completed properly with PQT results recorded ? I believe this installation triggered the full capacity report. I had observed that the second line card had two channels removed from service, but perhaps they have been reinstated possibly after a line card replacement; but it seems there is little further expansion currently available. Even if new jumper cables and connector blocks are installed with a third line card, only 22 services can be provided as only an additional 50 pair cable set has been installed in the old GPO duct presumably due to duct capacity problems. (Cabinet 19 has had a second set of 100 pair cables installed.)

  5. David Nye says:

    Thanks Walter, a very useful report. Further information on the recent Horsham Lane fault can be found at http://www.ewhurst-broadband.org.uk/?p=3309&cpage=1#comment-744

  6. Walter says:

    Re The Glebe problems:-
    BT now report that “We can’t be sure if there is a problem in the area” !!!!

    I suppose that’s progress in that they have admitted some difficulties might exist.

  7. Walter says:

    Just as a precaution could I suggest that all affected turn off their VDSL modems in case intermittent connection are observed during the repairs. This should prevent the modem having a hissy fit and reducing the sync speed. Once you can do a quiet line test without hiss, crackles and hum dialling 17070 option 2 (only on BT wholesale / retail lines) and an option 1 ring back test, then it should be safe to switch the modem on again.

    BT have removed their caution and now report no problems even though the lines have not been repaired yet.

  8. Walter says:

    Temporary repairs beside the kerb-lowering works in The Glebe have been completed BUT ONLY FOR THOSE WHO HAVE REPORTED THE FAULT TO BT OR THE LOCAL ENGINEER. It is imperative that all who require working phone line report it so their phone numbers are recorded as needing attention.

    Whenever activity is spotted at the cable fault it is best to turn off your modem and test your line again as soon as possible afterwards.

  9. Walter says:

    Although notoriously unreliable this far in advance, it seems there are plans to run a new telephone cable to the rebuilt Lake House opposite the Duke of Kent School and at VERY VERY long last there is a hint that the suspect Moon Hall Road cable below DP 1042 just might be replaced. Curiously though, there are no announcements regarding the fibre cable the DoK were attempting to install which we believe was the reason for the protracted roadworks much earlier this year. Very sadly there seem no plans to extend the Peaslake Road ducts down the last 400 m to the junction of Ride Way which we have been pressing for since at least 2008. This would have a dramatic effect on all those substandard services affected if a new direct cable were installed.

    Extracts from two October 2013 http://www.roadworks.org entries:-

    Start: 20 Oct End: 27 Oct
    High impact, delays likely
    Location: outside “Lake House” to outside “Woolpit Farm” Peaslake Road Ewhurst Cranleigh Surrey GU6 7NR
    Description : Cable provision in duct to Provide Service (no excavation)
    Current status: Advanced planning
    Traffic lights, etc: Road closure

    Start: 19 Oct End: 27 Oct
    High impact, delays likely
    Location: Outside Folly Hill, Moon Hall Road Ewhurst Cranleigh Surrey GU6 7NP
    Description : Pole Renewal
    Current status: Advanced planning
    Traffic lights, etc: Road closure

  10. Walter says:

    Whilst I appreciate that large organisations may wish define time limits that they are comfortable with, it is cold comfort to one resident in The Glebe who complained as their service was not repaired yesterday whereas others were. In the current circumstances it is not surprising that this approach does little to quell the angst !

    Estimated repair date
    We aim to fix your fault by the time and date shown. We apologise if this is outside of expected 3 days from the fault being reported.
    Wed 31 Jul 17:00

  11. Walter says:

    Ref the report above, it is now apparent that BT’s fault processing centre in India failed to correlate this fault with the others already being repaired. Consequently they have arranged for a quite unnecessary house visit next Wednesday instead of adding this fault to all the others know to be connected with the road works. Perhaps it would esse the process if BT were a great deal les secretive and admitted exactly how many services have been lost due to the cable works and that they then inform India of that situation. After all it is not BT’s fault that others have cut their cable, even though perhaps it wasn’t adequately protected in adequate ducting.

    I also have to report that the temporary fix of the line to the west of the church has failed yet again, this time with an estimated repair time of 21:00 on the 30th. Perhaps it will be recognised that a temporary fix provides temporary relief but it seems such a short sighted policy merely increases the workload if it is not permanently repaired rapidly.

  12. Walter says:

    Yet another wasted day in The Glebe today. A BT engineer arrived and had a look. He didn’t even connect his tone generator but went away never to be seen again. I suppose we have to wait for Wednesday for this and the repeat cable fault to the west of the church both to be fixed ???

  13. Walter says:

    Just to update this saga, both services in the Glebe were operational again last Tuesday 30 July 2013. However we have yet another demonstration of varying line quality. The two adjacent houses are now known to be fed from the same cable with a length of about 1 km from PCP 19; one has a capped sync speed of 35 Mbps whilst the other can only manage 28 Mbps. However both are substantially better than the worst offenders elsewhere.

    The faulty line to the west of the church has also been repaired yet again. That line is estimated at 825 m from PCP 19 with a sync speed of 37 Mbps.

    Leaving the worst of the Ewhurst debacle until last, I am sorry to say that cabinet 20 is now no longer offering VDSL connections to those disadvantaged who enquire. It is now reasonably certain that the FTTC has all 128 services connected. As the maximum cable capacity is only 150 pairs, the additional costs of roadwork re-excavations (for the third time) as well as the considerable effort to install the missing components in the live FTTC cabinet, must raise doubts over the viability. I am still very disappointed that BT did not install the required maximum capacity initially** and I believe it shows yet again that BT have lost technical control to their accountants to quite ridiculous levels. Given the amount of installation works throughout west Surrey, significant delays are probable, but I should be delighted to be proved wrong.

    ** We had specified a capacity of 500 services for each cabinet in our procurement specification which BT has almost completely ignored.

  14. Walter says:

    Please note that BT now say that anyone requiring a VDSL service from cabinet 20 will be able to order again from 28 August 2013. That suggests a delivery date of mid September, always assuming the date is held.

    I am quite astonished to hear that two TalkTalk lines in The Glebe are STILL without service and that they have to wait until 8 August for an engineer visit.

  15. Walter says:

    Yet more problems in Peaslake Road again. In April 2011 I helped a resident who was seriously suffering from interference from the Thames Water pumping station. The problem returned recently and after the usual pantomime Bt engineer discovered the filter BT put on the Thames Water line had been discarded on the ground. After it had been replaced the service is a little better but at this distance from the Bulls Head the signal is so weak that anything disturbs the speed. This time we’re trying to get the actual cause rectified by Thames Water, assuming it is proven to come from their plant.

    Nil desperandum – just keep at it. Oh for some real fibre broadband which is completely unaffected by these sorts of problems.

  16. Walter says:

    Here’s some better news and some worse !

    I have observed a number of sub-standard VDSL services mainly on cabinet 20 where there has been a marginal improvement. It’s still not a satisfactory solution as most I’ve recorded are under the 15 mbps minimum that SCC set (Even though the BDUK limit is 24 Mbps and the EU is 30 Mbps).

    Sadly I have just discovered that recently Cabinet 20 has been declared not available for any more VDSL services until 26 November 2014. Given that we had postponements for over 6 months last year I suggest a degree of caution. That is emphasised still further as an ADSL line number in The Warren is still showing Cabinet 20 has VDSL services available !

    There is now a degree of optimism that at least 6 Cabinet 20 lines in lower Coneyhurst Lane fed from DP 1040 have been restored to VDSL availability, but limited to the postponed availability date. Sadly there has been no change for the few towards the far end of Horsham Lane connected to Cabinet 18 which remain condemned.

  17. Walter says:

    I am extremely sorry to say that my caution was well justified !
    I must apologise for relaying what appears now to be completely false information from the BT Wholesale Broadband checker web site. Today (Saturday 1 November 2014) the web site has removed cabinet 20′s VDSL availability delay to 26 November, BUT HAS NOW REINSTATED the ban on all new VDSL services from DP 1040 in Coneyhurst Lane.

    Given that those at similar line distances further up Ride Way all achieve from 17 Mbps to 20 Mbps sync speed, but the four properties in Lower Coneyhurst only achieve from 3.66 Mbps to 8.36 Mbps it must surely be assumed that BT cannot afford to replace the Coneyhurst Lane cable and prefer to deny them any VDSL service.

  18. Walter says:

    It seems that we are now denied access to the BT Wholesale checker today, 2 November 2014. Although you can get a reduced set of figures from ISP’s web sites, we have now lost the ability to see which green cabinet a particular line is connected to. It remains to be seen if this is a temporary or permanent restriction.

    If this is of particular concern to anybody I have reasonably accurate records of most Ewhurst addresses (and many others in the Surrey Hills Area).

  19. Walter says:

    I am pleased to say that the BT Wholesale checker now appears to be fully operational again. However all the other problems remain as does the lack of a Fibre on Demand product, even at eye-watering prices.

  20. Walter says:

    As of 5 November 2014 there might be a possibility of obtaining VDSL services for those without in Lower Coneyhurst Lane only. Cabinet 20 is still available for VDSL services for most of its connected lines but Lower Coneyhurst only now has an availability date of 3 December 2014. One explanation might be that BT Openreach are to replace some cable sections which would certainly be welcomed, especially if thicker conductors were to be used. Why lines are condemned at present when others in the same cables already have VDSL services remains a mystery as is the lack of a Fibre-on-Demand offering for the whole of Ewhurst.

    Some caution still seems necessary as a line right out by the Duke of Kent School is also offered a VDSL service on 3 December too, yet it can’t even get an ADSL service at present. Similarly another hopeless line right up on Holmbury Hill Road fed via the Ockley Road cable is offered a VDSL service from 3 December 2014.

    As an aside, PCP 4 in Albury off the Shere exchange was supposed to be ready for VDSL service again today but that date has now too been postponed to 3 December 2014.

  21. Walter says:

    WARNING – this note is only for those specialists interested in the fine detail of the regrettable Fibre Cabinet deployment !

    You’ll see above that I was perplexed by my observations so I have postulated the following. I’d be grateful for any comments either corroborating or confounding my theories.

    I believe Cabinet 20 is nearing its full capacity of 256 VDSL services as indicated by the first recent period of a lack of availability. I suspect there were a few faulty channels which are just ignored initially with the faulty services transferred to the next available channel. Once all are consumed the line cards are replaced to allow the full compliment of line card channels to be used or re-used.

    The next part of the expansion process concerns the tie cables. In the case of our ECI 256 cabinets each 64 channel line card consumes 7 bundles of 10 pairs as the wiring arrangements must follow the card connectors. It follows that a total of 280 pairs are required for the 4 line cards. However as the project wasn’t fully engineered to begin with, we have observed the installation of the first 100 pr set was followed by a 50 pair set with an additional bridging access chamber between the GPO duct and the single new duct near the new cabinet. BT Openreach then managed to squeeze a further 57 m 100 pair set into the existing ducts so the final card probably still has 24 free but un-usable channels. If my theory is correct we will eventually see another 50 pair tie cable set installed, possibly with a new access chamber near the Bulls Head. However if the usual procrastination occurs I won’t be surprised if we observe at least one more postponement by yet another month. Remember we had at least 6 months of non-availability in 2013.

    I believe I have also now confirmed another undesirable “feature” of the BT Wholesale estimator. You will see above I was initially surprised when those condemned lines in Coneyhurst Lane became available agin, BUT ONLY AFTER THE ANNOUNCED DELAY WAS COMPLETE. When the cabinet became available for service the condemned status was re-instated !!!! As we are now in yet another period of unavailability all the condemned lines AND all the very long outliers by the DoK school and Holmbury Hill Road etc. are shown to be available AFTER the end of the non-availability. I have a strong suspicion that the unfortunates will once again be condemned after the tie cables are installed.

    My theory is that the non-availability modification to the database over-rides all other conditions which are then reinstated once the cabinet is declared available again. If so, this must be one of the best examples of the obfuscatory culture we have to endure within the BT monopoly. Thankfully the Virgin Media infrastructure is far simpler and thus avoids these difficulties.

    (I am also aware that all those lines that have a BT VDSL service are always shown, quite reasonably, as being available throughout these unavailability periods. As I’m helping a resident in Ockley Road who has ordered, possibly the last, VDSL service available, those pending services are also shown as always available.)

  22. David Nye says:

    Speaking as a database applications developer, I expect Walter is correct that the cabinet’s availability status trumps that of an individual DP in the above circumstances. I think it very unlikely that this was deliberate by design. In my experience, it is far more likely that the BT programmer simply overlooked the implications. When I queried a similar situation with Openreach, I received the reply that no system is perfect! Large organisations tend to be very slow at correcting such system faults, until someone proves a significant impact on their “bottom line”.

  23. Walter says:

    I am pleased to report that Cabinet 20 is now reporting availability for VDSL services again but highly disgruntled to say that BT continues its very shabby treatment of those residents in Lower Coneyhurst Lane who, as predicted, have returned to their condemned status. Given that there are existing VDSL services running at a capped sync speed of 2 Mbps but used to run at over 3 Mbps, one might have hoped that BT would behave reasonably and still leave the few there available to pay good money for similar VDSL services. It surely can’t be that BT are trying to hide the execrable speeds obtained on substandard VDSL lines when there are so many others around Ewhurst in the same lamentable condition ?

  24. Walter says:

    Just to illustrate the dire state of the SuperFARCE, you’ll see below that BT Openreach Group disagree entirely with BT Wholesale’s wishful thinking ! If you put e.g. GU6 7QL which is part of the Ockley Road into the Openreach web site

    http://www.superfast-openreach.co.uk/where-and-when/

    you’ll see that you are classed as HD equating to High Demand, meaning you can’t order a VDSL service. It’s also an excellent example of how the weaselry that the obfuscators just love to confuse the hapless end users.

  25. Walter says:

    I’m pleased to say that, with the exception of those lines condemned by BT Openreach, VDSL availability is now shown for all three Ewhurst cabinets.

    Meanwhile Albury residents are not so lucky with their “Ready-For-Service” date now postponed for the third time to 17 December 2014.

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