Superfast Surrey Half Term Report

At the half way point in the Superfast Surrey fibre broadband roll-out, Thinkbroadband have performed their own analysis, and estimate that only 91% of premises in the sampled Oxted area will be able to get a “superfast” speed of 24 Mbps plus. Compare this with the estimated 76% able to get “superfast” speed in Ewhurst. SCC and BT have published a bewildering variety of targets. For example, the Surrey Mirror reports that only last June Lucie Glenday (Superfast Surrey Programme Director) repeated her promise that “99.7% of Surrey’s population will have superfast broadband by the end of next year”, whereas the FAQ states that “We will be providing 94% of homes and businesses in our programme deployment area with download speeds of 15 mbps or above.”

Cranleigh postcodes recently enabled include GU6 8EE GU6 8EF GU6 8EG GU6 8EQ GU6 7JR GU6 7LA GU6 7LB GU6 7LH GU6 7LP GU6 8EH GU6 8EJ. BT have also issued a Press Release on the progress to date.

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10 Responses to Superfast Surrey Half Term Report

  1. David Nye says:

    Note that the FAQ second section item 7 attempts to clarify what the 99.7% target actually means, but also appears to imply that this target has reduced to 99%.

    SCC still appear to be “fudging the figures” in their own news item: “Surrey’s goal is to give nearly everyone access by the end of 2014 compared with the national superfast broadband aim of 95% by 2017.” The national target clearly defines “superfast” as 24 Mbps plus, whereas the clearest Superfast Surrey target is 94% at 15 Mbps plus.

  2. Walter says:

    Those interested in the history might like to glance at the front page of the paper David Cooper and I prepared for SCC in 2011; note some of the figures are now stale but, in my opinion, the underlying message is still highly apposite.

    It is also worth noting that indeed Superfast Surrey started out with the 24 Mbps figure too, but it somehow dropped quietly to 15 mbps. Many of the outliers in Ewhurst would rejoice if only they could achieve even this derisory figure. Meanwhile those in areas provided with the Virgin Media premium rate broadband services are about to receive 150 Mbps via their superior co-axial cable solution. This link demonstrates my current VM service speeds this afternoon:-

    I do not gloat on the misfortunes of much of rural Surrey (and the UK) but it must be emphasised how large the current gulf is between rural broadband based upon the old PSTN twisted pair network and more appropriate engineering solutions.

    Finally returning to the SCC percentage figures; I still believe there is much confusion, especially as %ages are quoted without the full definition. One aspect David Cooper and I have corresponded with BT’s General Manager, London (Andrew Campling) about Ewhurst’s “having access” figure. It became clear that the BT Ewhust figure of 1,200 having access is based upon the total line count of the green cabinets, even though there are only about 900 properties and substantially less available capacity within the FTTCabinets. Those who believe BT will install more cabinets if required might like to observe that cabinet 20 lost its availability in mid July 2013. We note that a VDSL broadband service application last August has only just been commissioned in Coneyhurst Lane after much obfuscation and deceit; BT had claimed the line was too long even though the next door neighbour had a VDSL service actually running down the same drop-wire. Very sadly this does not bode at all well for the area especially as it seems that the operating budget is under so much stress that timely expansion seems impossible.

  3. David Nye says:

    Regarding that speed test, it’s very disappointing that Virgin Media are still refusing to improve their dreadful upload speed ratios. Less than 10% of download in the above case, and very similar even on their business packages, when businesses really need a symmetric service (same speed up and down). For the purposes of many applications, that Virgin 120+ Mbps connection is effectively providing only 6 Mbps. (That’s over 10 times my upload speed on FTTC mind you!)

    For comparison, FTTC on short lines can provide close to 20 Mbps upload i.e. 25% of the nominal download speed. Openreach FTTP, in the very few places available (e.g. Capel) can currently provide 30 Mbps upload.

  4. Walter says:

    Yes David,

    We all know we want a symmetric 1 Gbps B4RN true Fibre-To-The-Home solution but we need more enthusiasts and financiers to do so !

    It remains to be seen how VM manipulate their 150 Mbps upload ratio.

    I also note that VDSL on poor lines can take so much that the upload is no more than it used to be on a good ADSL2+ service. I’ve seen several with sub-800 Kbps upload speeds. It seems the profile can’t be adjusted even if the end user wants to sacrifice some download.

  5. Walter says:

    Some of you might like to glance at this FT article and the comments:-

  6. Walter says:

    David N reports that your are blocked unless you register for a limited number of free articles. For those not wishing to do so, I hope I’m allowed to replicate just our texts as below:-

    From David C Cooper
    In Surrey, BT and SCC publicise statistics for each new cabinet with all homes and businesses included despite only approximately one third having access after the initial deployment. These progress statistics imply that the project will meet the target to provide “fibre” broadband access to 99.7% of premises by the end of 2014. Based on the statistics published, SCC seems to believe that the job is complete after the initial installation of each cabinet, despite there being significant further street works and long delays to bring cabinets up to full capacity, as has been witnessed in Ewhurst and other places.

    SCC has now confirmed that the superfastsurrey project will not fund “fibre” broadband access to 99.7%, leaving BT to fund any future infrastructure as demand grows. BT could not make a commercial justification to provide access to those in the intervention area, hence the £21.3 million public investment. We now find that this will not fund the high percentage claimed by the project and will require future investment by BT based on their commercial judgement. There is no guarantee in the SCC contract with BT to cover this future work, so how can the project claim such high “fibre” broadband access statistics?

    Other ways used by SCC and BT to exaggerate the statistics are to claim that those on long lines have access to superfast speeds, when significant numbers cannot. The project started with “superfast” defined as a greater than 24 Mbps. To suit BT this threshold has been redefined to 15 Mbps, although as completed areas demonstrate, long poor quality lines are unable to support even 15 Mbps. The statistics do not mention the upload speed, which is inadequate for SME business use, especially those in rural areas. Improving SME business access was the main justification made by the authorities for spending public money, whereas BT’s main driver seems to be residential sport.

    There are many people watching, blogging and commenting about the BDUK projects. The internet is difficult to erase, so one day this record of statistical deceit and other methods such as revising coverage areas to “see off” any hint of competition will be available to make sure that such a shambles does not happen again. For those that are interested, my own record is here

    From me:-

    This dire situation is exacerbated when BT employ subcontractors without the necessary test instruments. The contractor is only interested in seeing the modem light come on and then departs, leaving the uninitiated to struggle with their ISP to even arrange a real engineer’s visit. This activity sometimes triggers a significant reduction in the figures provided on the BT Wholesale availability checker, thus reducing the threshold requiring a BT Openreach visit. To add to the consumer’s woes, the BT Openreach modems are locked down denying access to a wealth of data to demonstrate the inadequate service. Only a semi-regulated monopoly could get away with such deceitful practices imposing significant burdens on individuals and businesses alike.

  7. David Nye says:

    Phil has kindly sent this link to a very active discussion about the Hindhead roll-out on the Grayshott forum. Hindhead has experienced some very significant obstacles and delays, but it sounds as if all but one cabinet is now enabled.

  8. Walter says:

    BT Wholesale are announcing that PCP 5 in Shere itself now has VDSL available. That leaves 1 in Gomshall, 2 at Hound House lane, 3 at Little London and 6 at Brook Hill / Farley Green which are all recently postponed to the end of June 2014 according to SCC. Similarly PCPs 2 Holmbury and 3 Abinger Common are also postponed to the end of June 2014. Forest Green which was an exchange-only area now has a PCP installed immediately outside it but is only forecast for the end of 2014.
    Road excavation and duct clearing works are underway along the route to Bramley PCP 10 in Blackheath.

  9. Walter says:

    BT Wholesale are now announcing that Bramley PCP 10 in Blackheath now has faster VDSL services available.

  10. David Nye says:

    Phil tells me that lines connected to Cranleigh cabinet 22 can now order “fibre” broadband.

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