Walter Willcox and David Cooper have just published an extremely informative paper on the real-life performance of FTTC connections in Ewhurst, Surrey. There are a couple of points which I think should be kept in mind while reading the report.
First, Lucie Glenday (Superfast Surrey Programme Director) told us the SCC/BT contract stipulates that 95% of premises in Surrey will be able to achieve speeds of at least 15 Mbps, and the remainder at least 2 Mbps. We have since been informed in writing that the contract actually stipulates 94.6% but they are “pushing for 95%”. We have repeatedly requested sight of the relevant contract terms to verify the exact wording, especially since SCC have not to our knowledge published these numbers, but to date our requests have been ignored.
Second, some extra public funding is available for use in areas not covered by BT’s commercial roll-out (i.e. for the “intervention” areas, the allocated funds exceed that required for FTTC alone). Lucie told us that much of this will be used to provide additional technology to extend the reach and performance of FTTC in intervention areas only. We were also told that the Superfast Surrey team can help communities in intervention areas to implement other solutions such as FTTP and wireless. Apparently they are already discussing B4RN style projects with some Surrey communities, and this help can include some public funding. As an example, premises in Peaslake and some parts of Cranleigh are in intervention areas, but none in Ewhurst or most of Cranleigh. So, the estimated 69 premises in Ewhurst still unable to access FTTC services cannot be helped using public funds, nor can we take advantage of the Superfast Surrey team expertise and experience. The same disadvantage seems to apply to all “commercial” areas covered by BDUK projects nationwide, and is reportedly caused by BDUK interpretation of EC state funding rules. Note that a premises is defined by SCC/BDUK as being in a commercial area if its phone line connects to a cabinet which is supplied fibre as part of the commercial roll-out, even if that premises cannot actually be connected to a fibre service, or if the fibre service is no better than ADSL.