Hampshire Superfast 95% Extension

Hampshire County Council have signed another contract with BT, to provide superfast broadband coverage to 95% of Hampshire properties, from the 90% of the original BT/BDUK/HCC contract.

An expansion of the map on the Hampshire Superfast Programme website is hard to analyse, but it does appear to show some notable things:

  • A large and rural DCMS Innovation Fund trial area east of Winchester, where around £1.2M is being given to Call Flow Solutions (who have previously focussed on work in Kent) to look at hybrid methods of providing superfast broadband to around 1500 properties.  More details including another map are in this document available on the DMCS website.
  • A number of business/industrial areas of Basingstoke look set to receive upgrades in this 95% upgrade, including Houndmills, Jays Close, Wade Road, Chineham Business Park, etc
  • Some 95% work in residential areas like Rooksdown, Cliddesden, and perhaps end western end of Popley Way and Chineham.
  • And the all important blue area ringed in a red circle on the map appears to be us, PCP102/Everest Park – for which the map key reads “Areas where commercial provision is expected to be made”.  The blue area on this map doesn’t cover the whole development, but this we expect is an artefact of the development only being part-complete when these areas were scoped;  once the cabinet is enabled everyone connected to it should be able to buy a superfast service (until the cabinet is full, of course!).
  • There are also a few other blue slithers including one that looks like Skippets Gardens, which are other areas expected to be enabled commercially.
Hampshire Superfast Broadband Programme 95% map – Everest Park is the blue area circled in red

So hopefully this is further promising news.  Obviously there is no timeline provided against the blue areas, but earlier HCC maps implied our development was already implemented, which of course it isn’t yet, so we are at least now a blip on a radar!

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“Local” Superfast Works for Jan 2015

Whilst there doesn’t appear to be any superfast broadband roadworks scheduled in Basingstoke at present, roadworks.org shows that a number of the villages and towns around Basingstoke are having superfast broadband deployed during January;  cabinets in Herriard, Stratfield Saye, and Overton are amongst those showing planned work.

Typically the site shows BT/Openreach works 2-3 weeks in advance, so with any luck the engineers will move back into our area soon.

 

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Everest Park DSLAM (Fibre Cabinet) Listed on Openreach Checker App

Whilst we’ve not yet had any formal announcements on progress towards implementing a superfast fibre broadband service at Everest Park since September, Openreach to appear to be making progress behind the scenes.  The BT Wholesale Checker tool, which allows people to see broadband services available to them over the Openreach network, still does not list a forecast service date for FTTC for Everest Park, but the DSLAM (Digital Subscriber Line Access Multiplexer) – ie/ FTTC cabinet – is now listed when searching the RG24 9SZ postcode (for Edmund Court).  This was not listed.

PCP102 DSLAM listing on BT Wholesale Checker, Jan 2015
PCP102 DSLAM listing on BT Wholesale Checker, Jan 2015

This typically happens during the planning phase, and has been observed in a number of other local FTTC implementations several months before the cabinet is installed, so is a very positive sign.

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Superfast Hampshire

Hampshire County Council’s BDUK scheme to deliver broadband improvements to (mainly) rural areas has now reached the 100 cabinet mark.

The article on the scheme’s website here states this covers 23,450 properties, so an average of 234 properties per cabinet.  With almost double that on our PCP102, it is perhaps not surprising that in the event we were deemed to qualify for commercial coverage.

The leader of Hampshire County Council, Councillor Roy Perry,   took the opportunity (no doubt in part due to our campaign and the involvement of our Hampshire County Councillor Jane Frankum) to comment on developer’s responsibility in large scale new-build developments:

“I also think it is imperative that all new large scale developments have superfast accessibility from day one. It is high time local authorities were given the power to insist on that as an essential requirement when granting planning consent.”

“Reliable broadband services are important for the county’s economic prosperity and making sure as many people who live and work here have access to good broadband speeds – is a priority for us. ”

 

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Popley Matters!

Our local councillors David Potter and Viv Washbourne write in this month’s  Popley Matters (Oct 2014) about their support for our superfast broadband campaign.

In the event, their welcome involvement prompted a record response from Openreach, which meant that by the time the magazine had gone to press, our main goal of confirming a timescale for the upgrade had already been met, and the article is therefore slightly out of date!

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News from Openreach!

Openreach have now confirmed that they will upgrade PCP102 serving Everest Park to provide a superfast fibre broadband service by the end of March 2015, following discussions between the BT Regional Partnership Director (South East), Peter Cowen, and our local councillors David Potter and Vivien Washbourne.   David and Vivien highlighted their support for our campaign, and the high level of demand for superfast services demonstrated by our initial leafleting.

This is of course great news, received in under a week from the approach to BT’s Regional Partnership Director, and only tempered by the fact that until this approach was made causing a “comprehensive review” to take place, we have been overlooked and planning work for the installation has therefore not yet started.

Openreach have provided, via Mr Cowen, the following statement:

“Openreach is committed to bringing high speed fibre broadband to as many communities as possible and continually reviews its deployment plans to ensure that’s the case.

“Due to the relatively low number of premises connected to the cabinet serving Everest Park at the time of our initial survey, it was not included in the early phases of our commercial fibre programme.

“The good news for local residents is that Openreach is planning to enable the cabinet by Spring next year. This is following a detailed review of the expanded development which now has significantly more houses connected to the cabinet.

“Openreach is keen to work with developers as early as possible to allow us to efficiently align our fibre deployment plans with their development plans. To support this we have a dedicated ‘new sites’ team in place which focuses on connecting new developments across the UK to our open access network.”

It has been confirmed that  … enable the cabinet by Spring next year…  means by March 2015.   We have asked if regular contact can be maintained over this period with Openreach, in order to provide continuing reassurance that this target will be met, and keep fellow residents up to date.

Both Openreach’s statement, and Mr Cowen, highlighted the need for developers to engage with Openreach in order to prevent situations like ours occurring, and essentially for the planning applications process to need to mandate provision of a superfast service as developers are failing to unilaterally act.  Taylor Wimpey were included in the correspondence from both ourselves and our councillors but have not to date provided a response.

Openreach have now updated their fibre broadband website superfast-openreach.co.uk, to show that superfast fibre broadband is due to be provided.

PCP102 Basingstoke Commercial Programme Inclusion
Superfast Openreach website showing that our cabinet PCP102 is now included in their commercial programme.
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Campaign Update

Following our meeting with our local councilors, David Potter and Vivien Washbourne (both Popley East), and Jane Frankum (Basingstoke North, HCC) on 10th September, we have been busy  finalizing our communication plan to engage with Openreach.   We have also been interviewed by the Basingstoke Observer, the article is in this week’s edition.

With the assistance of our local councilors, we’re hoping to arrange a meeting with Hampshire County Council’s broadband team (and representatives of a couple of other local developments which have also been bypassed) in the next 2-3 weeks.

We have also have another interesting lead, from which we hope to have more details soon!

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Another Development’s Story

During our campaign research we have come across the story of the Hawthorn Rise development in Cheltenham, a development of 270 properties by Bloor Homes, Taylor Wimpey (again!) and Crest Nicholson.

Their story is that Openreach deemed their cabinet as not commercially viable (note that we have almost a third more properties than they do) and provided a gap-funding quote of £7,129 at the second attempt.  The developers were eventually persuaded to cover this cost.

We believe that with the level of registrations we have and the higher number of properties, our cabinet should still be commercially viable to Openreach without any gap funding requirement, but hopefully our engagement with them will make the current position clear in the near future.

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Our Campaign on Cable.co.uk

Cable.co.uk have published a report on our campaign to bring Superfast Fibre Broadband to Everest Park (Basingstoke PCP102).

They received an ‘interesting’ response from Openreach when asking them to comment on our campaign, “The Everest Park development isn’t included in BT’s current commercial or BDUK roll-out plans for fibre broadband – possibly because it didn’t exist three to four years ago when these were devised.  It might well be upgraded to fibre under Hampshire County Council’s future plans, but those haven’t been confirmed yet and BT has not been contracted to carry out the work.”

This appears to conflict with the information Openreach have previously given Hampshire County Council, whose own detailed broadband website shows the area covered by our cabinet, PCP102, as commercially provided;  and with information Openreach have previously told residents via their now-retired NGA Enquiries service.  For example:

The cabinet feeding your line PCP102 is not due for deployment until Phase13a Which is Quarter4 2013/14, the cabinet in question is currently planned as FTTC.   (Openreach NGA Enquiries, 25/07/2013)

Thank you for your enquiry regarding the Basingstoke Exchange, cabinet 102 (FTTC).  Our systems indicate that the cabinet has recently been brought into the programme and at present the work is in its very early stages.  Due to the complexity of the work involved we are hopeful the cabinet will be ready for service mid-August 2013, barring any complications.   (Openreach NGA Enquiries, 08/04/2013)

We now have 91 individual properties registered with the campaign, and is still slowly rising after our first leaflet drop two weeks ago, which is great news, and thank you to everyone who has registered so far (the website shows the number of individual registrations which is slightly higher).  However it would be really helpful if residents can continue discussing the campaign with their neighbours to continue the momentum.

As mentioned in the article at cable.co.uk, the campaign team are meeting our local ward and county councillors next week to discuss how they can help us, and any support we can get from Basingstoke & Deane and Hampshire County Councils.  We are also drafting communications with Openreach and plan to open discussions with them in the next couple of weeks.

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