Horsham Lane/Horsham Road Works Day 1

I walked up the Horsham Lane this afternoon, to the junction with Froggetts Lane, and found the Boxcom team busy guiding a “mole” under the road, confirming that works there started on schedule today. See the announcement on the Box Blog, which also includes a very positive report on the Rectory Fete. While there, take a look at the updated coverage map on the Box Broadband web site. Chris Box will attend the Ewhurst and Ellens Green Parish Council meeting this evening, to discuss one of the proposed extensions to the network.

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Plusnet speed issue

ThinkBroadband have reported that a significant number of Plusnet customers experienced poor connection speeds on Saturday. Performance has since returned to normal.

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Box at the Rectory Fete tomorrow

Box Broadband will be at the Ewhurst Rectory Fete tomorrow, Saturday 16th September. The Box team will be there to answer all your questions about our new “full fibre” ultrafast broadband and communications network. The annual fete, for St Peter and St Paul Church, is held in the Ewhurst Rectory Garden and Churchyard, from 12 noon to 4pm. Entrance is free, so come along and spend in aid of church funds.

There will be lots of traditional side stalls, games, bouncy castle, BBQ, teas, plants, cake, craft stalls, tombola, raffle, a circus fancy dress competition for all ages, and for the first time, a children’s flower arranging completion in the church. Don’t forget the wonderful Teddy Bear Hunt then return and enjoy the Teddy Bear’s Picnic.

All children are invited to take part in the first ever children’s flower arranging competition at the Rectory Fete on 16th September. Children need to arrange some flowers (from the garden or hedgerow is fine, you needn’t buy anything) in a jam jar and bring along to the Church between 11 am -1 pm on the day of the fete. Please also bring a label with your child’s name and age to display alongside the arrangement. Winners announced at 3.15 pm and everyone gets a prize.

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SCC Roadworks Permit

Surrey County Council have granted the permit for Boxcom to install fibre optic cable down Horsham Lane, from Monday 18th to Friday 29th September.

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Start of Works in Horsham Lane

Four local “community investors” have stepped forward to meet the funding gap, so that fibre laying works can start in Horsham Lane. Subject to Surrey County Council permit, Boxcom plans to start digging at the junction with Froggetts Lane next Monday, working towards Somersbury Lane over the following weeks.

A satisfactory long term funding deal is proving elusive, and construction progress will remain slow until this is secured. A number of potential investors have wanted to see a working network, so it seems probable that funding offers will improve as soon as the first connections go live. However, the issue with connection to the backhaul has not yet been resolved.

The Box Broadband team wish to reassure the community that they are determined to complete the first network as planned. This will include Somersbury Lane, then the B2128 south to the junction with Furzen Lane, Furzen Lane, Lowerbreache Road, part of Plough Lane, and part of Horsham Road in Walliswood. They are also expecting to announce various extensions once negotiations with landowners are finalised. Finally, have a look at their announcement about the cabinet installation.

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Network Connection Update

I understand that the national network provider has encountered an unexpected issue with the backhaul provision which will delay the first connection date somewhat. We’re hoping this will be a matter of days and will publish further information as soon as possible.

The previously reported delays in network construction and change in permit scheme mean that the Horsham Lane/Road segment now awaits funding to become available. Box Broadband remain willing to fund the work. Boxcom are working on private developments in the meantime.

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Box at the Rectory Fete on 16th September

Box Broadband will be at the Ewhurst Rectory Fete on Saturday 16th September. Chris Box, Managing Director, and other team members, will be there to answer all your questions about our new “full fibre” ultrafast broadband network, to provide further information, and of course will be delighted to register anyone interested. The annual Fete is held in the Ewhurst Rectory Garden and Churchyard, from 12 noon to 4pm, and offers “more circus fun with stalls, activities, crafts, refreshments, a fancy dress competition and a raffle.” Entrance is free, so come along and spend in aid of church funds.

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Network connection date

The following statement has been provided by Box Broadband, giving further details of the expected network connection date.

“We have been continuing our work in the Walliswood area. The cabinet base is now completed at the Village Hall and we are carrying out the final work to enable the network to go live.

During the last two months, much has been accomplished regarding land owner access permissions, gaining of easements, and applying for permits from the Local Authority. A number of these agreements have been complex and we are happy to confirm that we are working positively with all stakeholders. This will allow future progress to be substantially faster.

The initial bridgehead construction has taken longer than planned, however we are now close turning on our new pure fibre optic, ultrafast network.

Box Broadband has now received confirmation from the national network provider that their work will be completed around the 5th of September, we are keen to ensure this date is met, and we are able to switch on the network shortly afterwards.

Customer installations will start at the beginning of September.

Our future network construction plans are very much now based on customer demand, registrations of interest will dictate where we build and how far we extend our networks, please register your interest at www.boxbroadband.co.uk.

All of the team at Box Broadband look forward to connecting you.”

The first connection date was always dependent on the national network provider, so it has not been delayed by the issues mentioned in the statement. It is now expected to be one month later than originally hoped. However, it remains unclear when works in Lower Breache Road, Horsham Lane and Horsham Road will commence, and I understand that this delay is due to some issue with the SCC permits.

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Stage 2 Complete

The Froggetts Lane section, from the cabinet 1 location at Walliswood Village Hall, to the junction with Horsham Road/Horsham Lane, is now complete. The bridgehead network remains a little behind schedule, delayed by the unusually complex wayleave arrangements. The first connections are now expected to go live during August if there are no further surprises. I am certain that no other company would have been willing to go to the extraordinary lengths necessary to negotiate the convoluted access conditions in this area, for the benefit of our relatively small community. So I believe that we are extremely fortunate to be working with Box Broadband on this project, and I am profusely thankful to Chris and his team for their persistence, patience and expertise.

On to Stage 3, where Surrey County Council have forced another adjustment to the construction plans. For some reason they have issued the permits for works in Lower Breache Road to start before those for Horsham Road/Lane, so Lower Breache Road will now have to be the next section tackled. This may have little impact on connection dates, however, since the backhaul to the cabinet is now expected to go live in August; the date will be determined by the service provider.

The Box customer services team have been busy visiting premises for site survey in the Phase 1 area, but a few more confirmed orders are still needed to make our network sustainable. The Phase 1 area now includes Froggetts Lane, Lower Breache Road, part of Horsham Road (RH5 5RL), and Horsham Lane (GU6 7SW). Please call Box Broadband on 03301 130 180 Monday to Friday 8am to 6pm to book your appointment. There is no minimum contract term, so you can switch back to a copper based service at any time in the very unlikely event that you wish to, but still benefit from the increased property value, since the fibre connection will remain available for future use.

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Stage 2 begins

This afternoon I looked around the Boxcom works on day 2 of stage 2 of our network build. I saw the men taking great care to minimise inconvenience to traffic and residents, sweeping the smallest amount of debris off the road, and leaving completed areas very neat and tidy. It’s also clear that this infrastructure is being built to last many decades, with capacity for future expansion as required.

Walliswood Village Hall

Box Broadband issued this update last week:

We are delighted to announce that after a brief delay we are now commencing the next stage of the initial bridgehead network. The gaining of the necessary easements and wayleaves has taken longer than anticipated. Members of the local community have been vital in providing us with valuable local knowledge.

We are additionally in the final stages of agreeing the location of the cabinet and the order is now well advanced relating to the connection of our network to the national fibre optic infrastructure service. More details will be released as plans are finalised.

From Wednesday 7th, teams will be starting work on the first section of highway, residents will be informed of the proposed works on Monday 5th. The planned work does not require any road closures, they will be some sections where the sides of the roads will be temporarily sectioned off, with a combination of give and take and stop and go boards in operation. We aim to carry out the required works causing as least disruption as possible.

The bridgehead will provide network access to Ewhurst (inc. Somersbury Lane) & Ellens Green to the north west, Walliswood to the south and Forest Green to the north east. The crossing of private land including farm land and fields will enable us to construct our network faster, if you are a local landowner and you feel you are able to offer suitable routes we are very keen to speak with you. Please call our team on 03301 130 180.

There will be further key announcements over the next few days, please visit the Box blog to keep up to date.

All the team at Box would like to extend our sincerest thanks to the Lowerhouse Farm Estate, in particular Mr Martin Stapleton, without his generous donation and access over the estate the progress to date would not have been possible.

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First week photos

Box Broadband tell me they have made excellent progress in their first week, and have kindly provided the photos of these works below. They will probably remain on private land, out of sight, for another two weeks or so, before appearing in Froggetts Lane. They have added a blog to their web site at www.boxbroadband.co.uk/blog, where you can also sign up to receive an automatic email link to all new posts. This should greatly improve communication if we all use it. The first Box blog post includes an updated map showing the approximate routes for the smaller initial roll-out, reflecting the amount of funding secured so far. Rest assured that Box Broadband still plan to cover the whole parish and surrounding areas, if the members of the community involved want this, and work to get the necessary additional funding is in progress.

Box start work 1 Box start work 2Box start work 3 Box start work 4 Box start work 5

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FTTP Network Construction Begins

As promised, Box Broadband have started construction work on our first pure fibre optic communications network today. The plan is to become a world-class Fibre to the Premises (symmetric Gigabit FTTP) broadband & telephone service covering Ewhurst, Ellens Green, Walliswood and surrounding areas, subject to demand and funding. The scope of phase 1 has been scaled down to match the start-up funds forthcoming, and covers the area of greatest registration density to date. A Boxcom team is currently digging across private land north of Froggetts Lane and expects to reach the lane itself in about 3 weeks. Once fibre laying here is complete, they will continue down Horsham Lane, into Somersbury Lane, then down the B2128 to Furzen Lane. The link to the backhaul will be in Walliswood, with a cabinet near the eastern end of Froggetts Lane. The backhaul service has been ordered and delivery is expected in 3 months, so we hope to see the first connections go live at the end of July.

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How is this possible? Why here?

Chris Box, Boxcom MD, found my Ewhurst Broadband web site last year when he was looking for opportunities to launch a new service in Surrey and Sussex. He saw that I had already established strong demand in the area. Many meetings and telephone debates later, Chris is convinced that the project can be viable in the long term. However, the necessary start-up funding has been more challenging than expected, given the support promised by central & local government. So Box Broadband decided to start small, in the roads with the greatest apparent demand. Chris has complete confidence in his team and product, so he is sure the first recipients will be delighted, that demand will thus multiply, and funding will follow. From this bridgehead the company hopes to expand into many similar rural locations in the region, where residents are desperate to catch up or overtake the urban centres.

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Why register now?

It is important to let Box Broadband know your level of interest now for several reasons.

  • The roll-out will be demand driven and routes will follow advance orders, to ensure the network is commercially viable and thus sustainable in the long term.
  • Further funding has been promised subject to projected connection numbers; a poor take-up at this stage may well cause the project to stall in a few months.
  • The fibre must cross private land, so Box need contact details for all cooperative landowners.
  • In some cases it may not be feasible to go back and extend the network later.
  • Ensuring your property has access to the network will increase its value and give you or a buyer the option to connect later.
  • Those ordering a service in advance will get a special installation deal.

Click here to register or phone Box Broadband Ltd on 0330 113 0180.

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Box Broadband Announce Start Date

Box Broadband have now confirmed that they intend to start ground works on 24th April. This initial work by Boxcom will be the installation of duct and fibre optic cabling in fields and tracks. Once the long haul routes are complete, the head-end cabinet will be installed and connected. The first postcodes to get symmetric Gigabit pure fibre to the premises (FTTP) service availability will be announced based on progress, and depending on factors such as demand, Council permits, way-leaves, and efficient network design. The plans published on the Box Broadband web site should be updated as the project progresses. Subsequent coverage will be confirmed during the network construction, which will be demand driven, i.e. areas with highest demand will be connected first.

If you have not already done so, remember to register your intention to order the service on the Ewhurst, Ellens Green and Walliswood page. This form now asks you to select a service speed (50, 200 or 1000 Mbps) which will help Box with planning, but does not commit you at this stage. Also consider organising a local campaign in your street to ensure everyone is aware of the benefits, increasing demand, and get the service sooner.

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Funding Our Community Project

Box Broadband will need additional funding to complete our community FTTP network. Please do contact Chris Box on 0330 113 0180, or through their web site at www.boxbroadband.co.uk, if you can help to facilitate access to any source of funding, large or small. You can also request further details of the Community Funding Scheme.

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Boxcom Testimonials

I have received two independent references for Boxcom’s work on past Gigaclear FTTP deployments. These come from key people in the two projects, who are both ex colleagues of a Ewhurst parishioner.

Appleton and Eaton Broadband Group:

“Boxcom had a great team of engineers. Work was done on budget and on time. I heard no complaints during the project and most comments were of praise. The FTTP service was literally life changing; terrific Mbps speeds download and upload, reliable performance and cost effective. I can make high quality video calls, and having switched to an internet telephony service (VOIP), I have a better quality telephone service that costs me less.”
Graham Rose

Underriver, Godden Green and Wildernesse Estate Group:

“Gigaclear contracted all ground works to Boxcom; Chris Box the owner was very good. To lay the fibre, Boxcom had to dig a long run from the fence to our house. That was done in double quick time by a small and efficient team of ex Ghurkha soldiers. The fibre here is superb; BLAZING fast speeds and great telephony (with the surreal ability to answer one’s landline whilst being anywhere in the world.)”
Graham H

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Box Activity

Boxcom vans and staff are working in the area this week. Today they have delivered flyers to premises on their Phase 1 routes and have taken the opportunity to speak to anyone encountered along the way. Chris Box is meeting landowners regarding wayleaves for cross country fibre cable laying. They will be back later in the week, and are happy to make appointments to meet those with questions. Chris has also offered to host another drop in, perhaps in the Ellens Green Memorial Hall. Will anyone keen to help Box organise this please let me know.

The flyer is designed to identify all those intending to order the service if and when it is available. To support this process there is a new web page at www.boxbroadband.co.uk/ewhurst . Due to the pace of progress, the page is still being developed. I understand that it can already be used to confirm intention to order, by clicking on the “I want to register my interest” button and then entering the preferred package in the comments box.

Meanwhile, everyone who registered a valid email address with Box, but did not provide a full name and address or phone number, should now have received an email from Box requesting these details to be submitted using the improved “Register my interest” button at www.boxbroadband.co.uk. Please note that the postcode lookup issues on the early version of the web page have now been resolved. I would assume that there is no need to re-register here if you are confirming using the “Ewhurst” page as in the previous paragraph, so this probably relates more to those not in Phase 1.

Also please note the new Box Broadband telephone number: 0330 113 0180

Link to Box Broadband Phase 1 Flyer

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Box Broadband Project Status

Box Broadband Ltd is now very close to announcing the start of their network build, subject to confirmation of funding. They have been very busy in planning, dealing with local authorities, web site development (more pages coming soon), exploring funding options, recruiting, setting up support services such as call handling, and much more. The proposed product range has been reviewed as a result of our feedback; please see the new pricing at www.boxbroadband.co.uk.

Box plan to start the build in Ellens Green; this is closest to the connection point with existing available fibre. The first cabinet planned will cover Ellens Green, southern Ewhurst (as far as Lower Breache Road), and Walliswood. The second will cover northern and eastern Ewhurst, including Pitch Hill and Forest Green, and the third will cover central and western Ewhurst. The extent of coverage away from the main routes will have to depend on the number of connections ordered and available funding. Box analysis indicates that the southern area network can be built quickly and is most likely to achieve the required level of initial take-up, thus providing the best showcase for their services. We believe that as soon as members of our community are enjoying pure fibre broadband, demand in other areas will strengthen and further funding will become available. This should allow the Ewhurst project to complete sooner, rapidly followed by expansion into adjacent communities, and thus securing long term commercial viability.

Everyone who registered their interest at www.boxbroadband.co.uk should be contacted by the company by the end of March, and their coverage status confirmed. If not already covered, Box should indicate what is needed to achieve a viable network extension in that area. I will publish a further update to confirm, as soon as I am told this process is complete, to check those who might not be properly registered (e.g. a mistyped email address).

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Box Broadband Project Funding

Box Broadband is now seeking to fund part of the network build from local community investment. A number of people have already expressed an interest in contributing, and we believe that ownership of a share in the fibre network will reinforce the project’s community spirit. A local investment scheme can also provide more favourable terms than commercial sources, which all contributes to encouraging take-up and expansion, and thus long term viability. If the response is good, work can start on construction very soon. The company is working hard to finalise this community funding scheme and hope to launch in the next few days. I will publish further details when available.

Box are still working on other funding sources, but at the moment these appear to be more likely to bear fruit after the first stage is completed, or even later. For example, some sources are only interested in existing infrastructure assets; others are looking for much larger projects. The original plan, for a government loan, would simply have taken too long to get through all the red tape, with no guarantee of success at the end. It also requires members of the parish to set up and run a suitable company, such as a Community Interest Company (CIC); will any volunteers please step forward!

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