Background

Everest Park from Google Earth
Location of Everest Park development (since completed) and local Openreach PCP and FTTC cabinets on a Google Earth 3D view of Popley

Everest Park is a development of 401 properties at the former John Hunt of Everest School site, in Popley, Basingstoke. The development was built in two main phases, phase 1 by Linden Homes between 2007 and 2009, and phase 2 by Taylor Wimpey from 2011 to 2014.

Basingstoke has historically suffered with more than its fair share of broadband problems, principally due to the length of many of the lines from the local exchange. Much of the town has ADSL broadband speeds ranging from 0.5 to 4Mbps, with estimated speeds at Everest Park typically in the 1-3Mbps range.

In 2010 Basingstoke was one of the first exchanges upgraded by Openreach to support fibre broadband, and so far over 120 ‘street cabinets’ have been upgraded (had a fibre twin added) to provide FTTC technology with speeds of up to 80Mbps available.  The majority of these were upgraded “commercially” by Openreach, but recently the Government-sponsored Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) / Hampshire County Council (HCC) scheme has upgraded a small number of the total in partnership with Openreach.

Basingstoke was also selected as one of the first five towns and cities in the UK to trial FTTP-on-demand, the ability to order up to 330Mpbs fibre to the premise – but only in cabinet footprints where FTTC has been rolled out.

Virgin Media also has a significant presence in Basingstoke, providing up to 160Mpbs services, and so we now have the situation that most of Popley (and Basingstoke as a whole), including all of the estates immediately surrounding Everest Park, have both Virgin Fibre Broadband and Openreach FTTC.  However the newest development in the town remains one of the few areas with no fibre service available, and in particular prior to this campaign, no indication when one may arrive! Great planning!

To add insult to injury, during 2014 Sky also selected a small area in Basingstoke to be the unique location for their year-long fibre-to-the-premise trial using new overhead lines;  but they have chosen an area already provisioned with both Openreach FTTC and Virgin Media.

Nearby Cabinets to PCP102
Approximate Openreach cabinet coverage of Popley showing cabinet status mid-2014

It is believed that the developers of Everest Park were given the opportunity to have free ducting to provide Virgin Media services here, but declined (thanks!); and that Basingstoke & Dean Council originally negotiated with Openreach to upgrade our cabinet to provide fibre, but this fell off the radar;  this even went as far as to indicate that the ‘better/faster’ FTTP was to be provided, the first location in Basingstoke to receive it commercially.  Alas that seems not to be.  If this were the case we could have understood a delay until the developers have completed the site to avoid them potentially damaging newly installed fibre (though Openreach work with the same developers at other sites to bring fibre during construction). However Openreach when queried said that any provision would be FTTC, which does not impact any on-site cabling and therefore is not affected by building works, so there was no particular reason to delay its implementation.

The current ‘green street cabinet’ serving Everest Park, otherwise known as PCP102, sits on Hampshire County Council maintained Popley Way, just near the roundabout with Mallory Road into Phase 1 of the development. Its position is not unlike PCPs 104 and 85, and 39 serving the older developments on either side, and power is readily available in the area. With typically quoted install costs for a fibre cabinet of £30,000, and just over 400 properties on site, that is a per-unit cost of around £80 and therefore appears commercially viable. In fact over half of the cabinets in Basingstoke which have already been enabled appear to supply less than 400 properties.

PCP102
Location of Everest Park PCP102 cabinet on Popley Way, on what is believed to be public land

Following the launch of our campaign in August 2014, thanks to a great effort by our fellow residents, we successfully demonstrated a significant level of demand for a fibre service to Openreach, and with the involvement of our local councillors David Potter and Vivien Washbourne, were ‘added in’ to the commercial programme.  Indeed Openreach updated their Superfast “When and Where” site within a week to confirm that our area is now planned to be enabled.

Openreach announced through BT Group’s Regional Partnership Team that PCP102 serving Everest Park would be Superfast-enabled by the end of March 2015;  unfortunately the promised implementation works did not occur.

Joining with residents from Marnell and Limes Parks who found themselves in a similar situation, and following a barrage of emails and other correspondence from residents, the campaign team, and our local county councillor, Jane Frankum, we successfully opened dialogue with Openreach again, and secured a meeting with the Openreach Programme Manager for the South West, and BT’s Regional Partnership Director, which was held in Everest Park in August 2015.

At the meeting it was confirmed that Openreach commercial funding had been secured to complete all three cabinets we were campaigning for by the end of March 2015, a good step forward.  In early September surveys were undertaken of each location, and in late October the first hint of the installation work appeared on roadworks.org for PCPs 102 and 92.  Physcial site works and cabinet installation for these commenced on 5th November 2015.

Until the cabinets go live, we still urge all residents who have not yet done so to register…

  1. with us by simply selecting your address here;
  2. also at http://superfast-openreach.co.uk/expression-gen.aspx/;
  3. and also at http://keepup.virginmedia.com/cablemystreet;

Whilst important updates will be published on this page, also keep an eye on our News section.  For example earlier in 2015, Hampshire County Council recently debated and passed a motion regarding the provision of broadband on new build estates;  and we presented a lot more detail on Openreach’s superfast broadband coverage in Basingstoke.

In early 2015 Virgin Media announced they will be spending £3Bn ‘filling in’ between existing service areas, which fits Everest Park well as we are surrounded by existing VM coverage.

 

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Superfast Fibre Broadband for Everest Park, for Basingstoke, for Hampshire