It’s been quite a while since we last posted, and in that time there has been a lot of additional work delivering superfast fibre broadband in Basingstoke and across the wider county. However, there remain a significant “unlucky few” headed towards having the disappointment of being in “the final 5%”, with “new” housing developments at the fore of these.
On a positive front, Virgin Media have chosen Lychpit and Old Basing as one of the early stages of their Project Lightning £3Bn network expansion, and are now approaching the end of the residential streetworks which have been running since late 2016 throughout the area, so the network should be live relatively soon. Further work appears to be ongoing to also cover the business area in Wade Road. This expansion covers a significant number of properties, and has used the micro-trenching technique to minimise the effects of the work and damage to existing infrastructure. The infilled trenches are almost impossibly narrow.
Openreach have also been busy, particularly towards the end of 2016, but their self-funded work has been geared towards adding second cabinets to areas where the initial FTTC cabinets are full rather than increasing overall footprint. A number of upgrades have taken place in Chineham, and other sides including PCP101 in Marnell Park.
Openreach have also been carrying out further work as part of the Hampshire Superfast Broadband Partnership with the county council, but these works in the current phase have focussed on industrial/business areas in this part of the county. There does in particular appear to be an overlap here, with both Openreach and Virgin Media currently working along Wade Road, and before Christmas they both appeared to be working in Armstrong Road. This does raise questions over the best use of public money, as the government/county backed scheme is not meant to be subsidising BT/Openreach to deploy to areas already covered by Virgin. However in this particular case it’s a bit like the analogy with buses, and the HCC work has been scheduled for some time; Virgin are chasing them down the road.
On top of this good news, there are also some housing developments appearing with Ultrafast Openreach fibre to the premise. The below for example shows the 330Mb service available in the David Wilson Spiers Meadow development.
It will be interesting to see what is delivered at Croudace Homes’ new Vyne Park development (RG24 8LS) which opens tomorrow. Initial forecasts are not promising, based on the current Openreach checker result shown below. Openreach are currently building out, as part of the BDUK scheme, fibre to some cabinets in nearby Chineham Business Park which are connected to the Basingstoke exchange. But there is also a tiny Chineham exchange serving the northern part of Chineham Business Park which has no fibre, and Cabinet 3 on that exchange is listed as serving the Vyne Park sales office and show home!
Due to the presence of nearby roadworks last year, it is thought Virgin Media may be being provided on the development, which would at least be a step up from Croudace’ last development at nearly Taylor’s Farm/Sherfield Park. Despite being one of the most affluent areas of Basingstoke, this still lacks any superfast broadband and consequently offers one of the slowest residential speeds in the Basingstoke area. An upgrade to FTTC was scheduled for at least one of the two Taylor’s Farm cabinets back in 2015 with planned street works appearing on roadworks.org, but the work was never actually carried out. DSLchecker.bt.com currently states “Cabinet to be enabled between Apr-17 and Dec-17”, but the delays show a lack of commitment at best from Croudace, evidenced by our ability to have PCPs 102, 95 and 97 enabled, and progress on sites like Abbotswood in Romsey.
The other development where there has been disappointingly no sign of progress is Skippetts Gardens, which remains outside of the Hampshire County Council/BDUK scheme, and outside of the Openreach funded planned works.
Linden Homes Longacre development at the southern end of the town also appears to suffer from poor planning. Properties on the development (postcodes RG23 7FA, 7FG & 7FT) appear to be connected to Basingstoke PCP135 which is probably the furthest cabinet from the exchange and consequently offers a massive 1Mb ASDL speed estimate, and currently no fibre. The Openreach website does however report fibre to be in the planning so there is a glimmer of hope for purchasers there.
So… some ups, but still, despite Openreach’s change of policy towards new-builds last year, that they would provide fibre to the premise where possible, things don’t seem to have been sorted just yet.