Ellens Green premises are mostly connected to cabinet 2 on the Rudgwick exchange, so were waiting on the West Sussex roll-out. Whilst not all checkers have yet been updated, the key BT Wholesale checker is now showing FTTC (“fibre” broadband) availability for part of the village. Unfortunately, the distance from cabinet 2 in Cox Green means that households near the start of Furzen Lane can only expect “fibre” broadband download speeds between 8 and 20 Mbps, and service tails off to the North and East. For example, School House has an estimate in the range 5 to 17 Mbps, whereas Fairfields a little further East has no availability at present. In Horsham Road, The Wheatsheaf estimate is 5 to 14 Mbps, but Pollingfold Manor is out of luck. Brookside Rural Park is in a better position, with estimates in the range 15 to 35 Mbps. The UK definition of “superfast broadband” is now 25 Mbps or more.
The Superfast Surrey project target is 94.6% of Surrey premises achieving a minimum service level of 15 Mbps. Rudgwick cabinet 2, serving Ellens Green, was upgraded as part of this project, so anyone on this cabinet who cannot get a 15 Mbps download service should seek further improvements from Superfast Surrey; email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The first step is to check your own availability at dslchecker.bt.com and note down the 4 FTTC Downstream Line Rate figures, if shown. If these do not appear above the ADSL estimates, then you cannot currently order “fibre” broadband from any ISP. It is worth checking again every few weeks, as coverage may expand in future. You should also press Superfast Surrey (Surrey County Council) for further help, and if you are interested in actively supporting a community FTTP/FTTH project please also contact me.
If you have an FTTC estimate, then you can start to compare the various “fibre broadband” services available. It may take some time for all service providers to register your availability. It is also quite common for availability to disappear, usually temporarily. This happens, for example, when the current capacity of the fibre cabinet is reached, and it should re-appear once the cabinet is upgraded. Initial capacity is often inadequate, and these upgrades can take months, so those with urgent need for the faster service should order quickly. Software and firmware updates, and various faults, can make the checker results erratic for a time, but estimates may occasionally improve after an upgrade. Certain lines may be identified by Openreach as being unable to support a stable FTTC connection, and in some cases this appears to block availability for neighbouring lines as well. Unfortunately, current Openreach policy is to remove availability, rather than fix the problem in the line (e.g. the corroding aluminium underground cables in Horsham Lane, Ewhurst).
When comparing the services on offer, beware the speed estimates provided by the ISP. These must be based on the figures you noted down, but it appears that the ISP can pick any number within that range. For example, BT have tended to quote speeds from the upper end of the range, which you may be unlikely to achieve in practice, whereas more responsible service providers suggest a lower, perhaps more realistic estimate. Remember that all providers are selling you the same FTTC connection to the exchange (from Openreach). However, performance upstream from the exchange does vary between ISPs, mainly due to “contention and congestion” differences. Once again, BT customers are often reported to have some of the worst problems in this area, so do shop around and check reviews.