All posts by Oliver Colenso

Update on PCP95

Apologies for the lack of news on PCP95;  a flurry of activity in mid January saw the cabinet being installed, but there has been little sign of progress towards it going live.

[EDIT 01/04/2016] Openreach have today confirmed Basingstoke PCP95 is now in final test, and will be released for customer orders by or on next Friday 8th April.

The problem appears to be with providing fibre to the cabinet from the local distribution point in Priestly Road, which itself is affected by the roadworks on the nearby A340.  Due to the width distribution point being in the carriageway itself (rather than under a pavement or verge), Openreach had decided a road closure was necessary to carry out the works, and the county council had said this should be done once the A340 works are complete in July.

The good news is that following further involvement of residents and ourselves, Openreach have renegotiated access with the council, and were allowed to carry out the required works from 5am to 9am this morning (with access again tonight if necessary) to complete the connections required to the cabinet.

Openreach are therefore hopeful that the cabinet will be commissioned and tested in the next few days and live in the next week or two.



Government brokers HBF/Openreach deal for new builds

The government has announced a new deal between BT Openreach and the House Builders Federation (HBF) which attempts to overcome the madness of new homes often being the worst served for broadband – as of course affected us in Everest, Marnell and Limes Parks.

The deal means Openreach will make FTTP the default for new build developments over 250 properties, and provide it for free in that instance.  For smaller developments developers will only pay the gap funded amount (presumably against the completed development), where previously it appeared Openreach were ignoring the planned property total, and were basing costs on a green field.

There is the odd catch, including requiring developers to give at least 9 months notice via an online planning tool, so don’t expect to see anything change overnight. Existing developments don’t seem set to benefit directly either, so this is unlikely to make and difference to the current developments in the Popley and Rooksdown areas.


Uncertainty over broadband at Spiers Meadow

David Wilson launched their show homes at the new Spiers Meadow development, adjoining Marnell Park which the same developers constructed in 2009-11, last weekend.  The first few residents appear to have moved in around a week earlier.

The homes are, on the face of it, very well equipped for the future with Ethernet points collocated with standard phone and tv/dual-satellite points, plus additional phone and TV points for Virgin Media, in the lounge, kitchen, study and master bedroom of each property, wired back to a central patch panel.

What is somewhat disappointing however is that the BT/Openreach connectivity appears to be copper rather than fibre-to-the-premise though like many new developments, residents have moved in before Openreach have actually connected anything up, so it’s feasible things could change.  However ports inside the property are copper, and two copper cables emerge through the external walls awaiting for Openreach to pull cables through the external ducting to meet them.

Lets hope that if the premises don’t receive FTTP, at least FTTC will be offered, though even that isn’t currently clear.  With neither, the Openreach offering would likely to be around 2-3Mbps.

The somewhat good news is that at least superfast and even ultrafast broadband will eventually be available from Virgin, regardless of what Openreach deliver, and both providers installed ducting to the site over six months ago so planning has obviously been going on for some time even if the work is not yet complete.


95 and 102 Updates

After a few days with little obvious progress at PCP95, serving part of Limes Park, which is currently being installed, yesterday residents reported significant progress with the power obviously being connected and the ground filled in, and all other ground works around the cabinet being completed and the pavement restored.

Openreach themselves were also in attendance carrying out cabling works, believed to include installing tie-cables to the existing PCP cabinet, and installing fibre.  We therefore hope this cabinet will go live around mid February, well in advance of the end-March deadline set by Openreach.

The other good news is that the third line card appears to have been installed in PCP102, as the BT Wholesale Checker updated this morning to show that FTTC is available again.  Residents of Everest Park are therefore able to upgrade to fibre again.


One Up, One Down – PCP102 back to Waiting List

Following the return of availability on PCP92 (Marnell Park) at around 4pm on Wednesday 20th Jan (indicating the addition and commissioning of another 48 port line card), less than 2 days later at around 11am on Friday 22nd Jan, PCP102 (Everest Park) has returned to a Waiting List status.

This implies the second line card, added just a week after the cabinet went live due to the first card selling out in just over 2 days, is also now full – 96 ports in total.  This is great news and proves the demand that our campaign demonstrated, which is significantly ahead of the national average.

Having taken around a month to add the new card for PCP92, but only a week for PCP102s first addition,  we shall ask Openreach to chase up provision of the next card, and will advise when it has been installed!



Progress on PCP95

Good progress was made on the VDSL2 twin for PCP95 in the first week of construction;  contractors installed the main cabinet shell on Thursday, and below is how the cabinet looked on Friday.  The site is very compact, with only minimal ducting required to the nearby pavement chamber, and for power.  When the pictures were taken, the power cable was still awaiting connection.

It is likely that the remaining connections will be made in the next week, and the cabinet ready for service in mid to late February.

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VDSL2 cabinet for PCP95 installed 21/1/2016

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Blue pull rope for power cable can be been in the hole under the barriers

FTTC for PCP92 (Marnell Park) now available again

Following Monday’s news that an additional line card would be commissioned to serve PCP92 this week, today the cabinet status has updated on the BT Wholesale DSL Checker to show that FTTC is now available to order again – good news for the residents there, who had around 10 days to order after the cabinet went live before the initial capacity sold out.  It has since taken a month to have the additional line card added, frustrating a number of residents.

To order, contact your preferred service provider.  Our Costs and Options page has details of current offers;  for most people the best value comes from switching supplier, whilst taking advantage of cashback and sales offers, allowing some bundles to average less than normal line rental charges over the minimum term, but also including fibre broadband and even some calls.



Superfast Extension Programme and “Private” Rollout

Some interesting updates are starting to come through the online systems, confirming which cabinets are next to be upgraded to provide superfast fibre broadband.  These, and updates to the Superfast Openreach website also give an indication on current progress on each cabinet, as to whether surveys have taken place for example, or physical installation has commenced.

We have only looked at data for Basingstoke so far and not the entire county, but this shows:

180Town Centre, Alencon LinkFTTC being Built, live due by June 2016BDUK Hampshire 14aRG21 7TW
20Old BasingFTTC being Built, live due by June 201615aRG24 7BH
95RooksdownFTTC doing Field Survey, live due by October 201615bRG24 9GY
89Sherbourne Fields development, Rooksdown / PopleyFTTC doing Field Survey, live due by October 2016Privately FundedRG24 9UP
90Sherbourne Fields development, Rooksdown / PopleyFTTC doing Field Survey, live due by October 2016Privately FundedRG24 9XG
47Daneshill Business Area (nr Lychpit)FTTC doing Field Survey, live due by October 2016SEP Hampshire 16aRG24 8FB
164Houndmills Business AreaFTTC doing Field Survey, live due by October 2016SEP Hampshire 16aRG21 5UG
167Crockford Lane (Chineham Intl Bus Park)FTTC doing Field Survey, live due by October 2016SEP Hampshire 16aRG24 8NA
31Houndmills Business AreaFTTC doing Design, live due by January 2017SEP Hampshire 17aRG21 6QD

It is good to see that FTTC is being provided, presumably by the developer, for the Sherbourne Fields development, currently the largest new homes development in Basingstoke – though the first stages of the development have been occupied for around a year now so better late than never.

Upgrades under the first part of the second wave of the Hampshire Superfast Broadband programme with BDUK (termed the Superfast Extension Programme, SEP) have also started to show up, and it is now the turn of business to benefit, with cabinets serving parts of the Houndmills, Daneshill, and Crockford Lane business areas first to benefit.

Note that the first three cabinets above should actually be complete before the end of March according to data shared by the Openreach team with us, so unfortunately it appears the data in some BT systems isn’t kept up to however.



Good news updates!

Openreach are trying to stop us getting the Monday blues with a good news update to welcome in the still fairly new year!

Firstly they have confirmed that an additional line card is required for PCP92, which has been in the “Waiting List” state since 18th December.  The job for these works has now been issued to the specific organisation in Openreach who handles it, and the card will be installed ready for further customer orders by this Friday 22nd January.

Secondly Openreach have provided the following update for PCP95 in Limes Park.  This cabinet has until now not seen any work despite PCPs 92 and 102 being completed.

“We have had to change supplier for this cabinet.  We now have a revised DSLAM stand date of 22nd Jan 2016, and power and fibre and copper connections will follow from this.”

Better than this, residents have spotted contractor teams actually commencing work this morning on the VDSL2 twin for PCP95, laying the plinth foundation and commencing ducting works.  This tallies nicely with the above update from Openreach, as the DSLAM stand date is thought to be the date the main cabinet shell is installed, and therefore preparatory works would need to be undertaken before then.

PCP 95 foundation installed 18 Jan 2016 – photo courtesy J Godfrey.

Based on the timescales of PCPs 92 and 102, residents could expect to see fibre available to order in around a month’s time.

Finally Openreach have confirmed an additional three commercial cabinets in Hampshire are due to be enabled/completed this quarter – unfortunately they have not advised which as yet.


PCP102 Additional Capacity Added

After a hiatus of 7 days (and after being available for just 2.5 days before that), Openreach appear to have added additional capacity to PCP102’s VDSL2 fibre cabinet.  Most likely an additional 48 ports (one line card) have been added.

Despite Openreach enabling a waiting list feature in their ordering systems in November, most providers have still spent the past week declaring Fibre was not available at all – which may have confused anyone trying to order who had heard that it was now available.  Following this morning’s status change on the BT Wholesale DSL Checker however, service providers (ISPs) are now showing availability again.

TalkTalk’s availability checker now shows fibre is available again

Whilst it’s almost certainly too late for anyone ordering a fibre upgrade today to have the service installed before Christmas, it may be possible to get an installation date just before the new year, or at the very least the first week of January.

BT, Sky and many of the other providers have updated their offers again, as they tend to do weekly.  We’re just in the process of updating our Costs page with these details.