I have received a statement from Superfast Surrey which indicates that the team finally has the authority to work with areas which are part of BT’s commercial roll-out, including Ewhurst. However, limited funds and the Open Market Review (OMR) timetable mean that those of us on long lines will have a protracted wait for any news of further improvements down this route. It is likely that the next priority will be those still below 2 Mbps, and these may well use up all available resources.
“With regards to your query, Surrey County Council has finished the main phase of its Superfast Surrey Broadband programme to bring fibre broadband to those areas in the county not included in commercial roll outs. Since the last programme update in December, the programme has extended the technology to an additional 4,000 premises bringing high-speed fibre coverage to more than 82,000 homes and businesses across the county. This roll out has been delivered at an amazing rate of nearly 200 homes and businesses per working day – transforming lives across the county, and according to BT Openreach figures, making Surrey the best connected county in Great Britain.
As well as a high proportion of businesses and residents throughout Surrey being able to achieve superfast speeds as part of the programme, pushing the fibre broadband network out as far as possible across the county will enable local communities, residents and businesses to take advantage of future innovations, technology developments and enhancements as they become available.
Whilst celebrating this achievement and the success of the programme it has been recognised that there is still work going on as part of this contract to reach those remaining premises located in the more technically challenging and harder to reach places of the county. This is not therefore, the end of the story and the Council would like to do more.
In December, the Superfast Surrey team were asked to undertake a programme review. As this has progressed and alongside feedback from key stakeholders, the team have been made very well aware of the small percentage of premises still unable to access a fibre broadband service. This review, and the on-going Openreach analysis of residents experiencing slower speeds due to long line lengths, has highlighted that these premises are based not only in the original Superfast Surrey programme intervention area, but also in areas extending across parts of Surrey which were originally included in commercial providers’ plans.
As a result, and to understand the full scope of the remaining challenge, the Superfast Surrey team will run a further investigation known as an Open Market Review (OMR). This is the only way that Surrey County Council can establish a clear understanding of the latest position regarding existing and planned commercial services, alongside the investment in fibre broadband services that has been achieved through the Superfast Surrey programme. The results will be used to identify how to prioritise the use of any remaining funds to address issues of broadband coverage and speed across the County.
The OMR has to follow a strict government timetable which is not within Surrey County Council’s control. This process involves commercial consultation, public consultation, analysis and mapping whilst taking into account EU State Aid regulations. Consequently it is unlikely that there will be any update before early Autumn.
With limited budgets combined with high demand for council funded services across the County Surrey County Council is conscious that there is no quick fix solution, however the council remains committed to working towards extending fibre broadband services to as many residents and businesses as economically possible.”
Meanwhile, I see that the house where I used to live, in Alfold, now has “native” FTTP available, giving the residents the option of 330 Mbps download and 30 Mbps upload. Phil also reports a lot of fibre laying activity in his area (off the Hindhead and Haslemere exchanges), which is not for FTTC cabinets, so must be for rural FTTP/FTTH.