Thanks to the persistence and perseverance of residents across the PCP 92, 95 and 102 cabinet areas, and our Hampshire County Councillor for Popley, Jane Frankum, we are delighted to report that we today held a very open and engaging 2.5 hour meeting on site at Everest Park with BT’s Regional Partnership Director, and with Openreach’s Programme Manager for Superfast Broadband in the South West.
Cutting to the important news for many, Openreach have, as of last night, confirmed funding to enable the three cabinets (92, 95 and 102) in their current financial year (FY15-16), which sets an expectation of the cabinets being ready for service by the end of March 16 (subject of course to any major complications emerging). Importantly the commitment extends to maintaining communications with the community as the cabinet areas are enabled, providing both positive updates on progress to engage the community (which is likely to drive take-up, so get your orders in quick!), and equally if any complications arise, keep us abreast of the situation and reasons behind any delays.
Openreach are also keen to to review the remainder of the “Hampshire 22” as we have termed them, and will in due course confirm whether each cabinet is in the commercial programme (and if so provide more details as to when it realistically may now be enabled); or alternatively in the BDUK programme; or neither. This will allow the communities involved to take action accordingly, rather than being in the dark and unable to pursue any avenue. We will publish that information as soon as we receive it.
Openreach will also look at the new Persimmon Sherbourne Fields, Charles Church Sherbourne Fields, David Wilson Spiers Meadow and Bovis “Aldermaston Triangle” developments in the Popley/Rooksdown areas and if they discover these aren’t currently being provided with fibre, will try to take this up with the developers concerned.
In due course, and following the lead of other areas such as Oxfordshire, Openreach may route information on the outstanding commercial cabinets via the county council; if you live in such an area and think that this would be a good move (we do!), it is worth taking the matter up with your local councillor, and ask them to raise it with the council’s Superfast team.
Commenting on our research, Openreach stated that they have recently been focussing on completing cabinets which have been stood (installed) for some time but outstanding some works (power, fibre spine, etc), hence the apparent limited work on new cabinets; obviously these in-situ non-live cabinets cause even more frustration for residents than where work hasn’t even started. They were also keen to confirm that the commercial deployment programme has far from stopped, and there are separate permanent teams working on three separate streams; commercial, BDUK, and new-sites; and also cabinets and funding are reviewed on an at least quarterly basis.
We asked a number of questions around previous delays, and sought assurances that this time the work will be completed to schedule. The fact that Openreach and BT took the time to meet us goes some way towards this, and it was also made clear our campaign has been escalated to the highest levels. Financial approval appears to have come from Bill Murphy, Managing Director for Next Generation Access (NGA) at BT, so it will get significant focus, and Openreach will provide us with a further update to the questions raised in due course.
In the coming weeks we’ll also finally populate the rest of our website in anticipation, to clarify the steps to enable the cabinet (you can’t get fibre the day the cabinet is installed!), and to give further information on ordering and upgrading once a cabinet is ‘ready for service’ (the ‘fibre fairies’ won’t magically arrive and upgrade your existing broadband, you need to place an order for a new fibre service!).