Newsletter — May 2014

Topics in this edition:

  • Progress with the rollout of superfast broadband
  • Delay between cabinet stand and go live
  • What’s a postcode between friends?
  • Do you live in an area where the cabinet has been announced for upgrade?
  • Events on our website
  • New Frequently Asked Questions
  • Questions and Answers

Progress with the rollout of superfast broadband

Since the launch of our first cabinet at Snitterfield last month work has been progressing well on the remaining 50 cabinets in Phase 1. The next update on the website is due in mid-late June and will show progress with Phase 1 as well as the cabinets to be upgraded in Phase 2. We are getting reports from a number of Champions about activity in their area, including in places that have not yet been announced. This is all great news and shows that the acceleration of the project is progressing well.

Delay between cabinet stand and go live

A few people have been in touch to say that their new cabinet has been stood but that they are unable to get superfast broadband. This is quite normal and is no need to worry that you may have been “forgotten”! In fact installing the cabinet is only a very small part of the process to bring superfast broadband to our communities. Once the cabinet has been stood it needs a power supply, and this entails a different contractor who will probably work to different timescales. It will also require a connection to the existing cabinet. By far the biggest job – or at least the one with the highest number of variables and potential pitfalls is the fibre connection back to the exchange. There are often problems with blocked or broken ducting, tree roots and other issues to overcome before the fibre can actually be connected through. Once the fibre is in place it has to be connected to the main spines and tested before the new service is ready to accept orders. Of course, we are not simply working with one cabinet at a time. Phase 1 includes 51 cabinets and runs through to October 2014? Phase 2 starts in July 2014 and runs to December 2014 and will also contain a significant number of cabinets.

What’s a postcode between friends?

We have previously explained that our mapping is done by postcodes, in accordance with BDUK requirements. However, telecoms infrastructure clearly does not follow postcodes.

When the original copper telecoms systems were developed it was often the big houses that had telephones first, and these were connected back to an exchange (which would have been manned by real people!) As more properties were built, cabinets were introduced at strategic points to enable better management of the network, and over recent years as more developments have been built so more cabinets have been installed. At the most extreme end of things we have a property in Stratford that is connected to the Rugby exchange.

We are now finding that we have some postcodes that are served by a number of cabinets, and some cabinets that serve properties in more than one postcode. The data on the maps has been generated using the actual locations of the cabinets, where these are known. (Remember the exercise some time ago to find cabinets in your area? This is what the data is being used for!) We have been told which postcodes are attached to which cabinets, and algorithms then calculate the distance from the cabinet that can achieve superfast (around 750m for this exercise). That gives us the differentiation between superfast (stronger colour on the maps) and fibre-connected (paler colour on the map). The fibre-connected properties will achieve an uplift in speed but the degree of uplift cannot be calculated at this stage. We are working on this.

One thing that we are finding is that some properties are not necessarily connected to their local cabinet, and therefore the postcode mapping becomes irrelevant. In one village we came across two properties that are next to each other. One is connected to the local cabinet a few metres away, whilst the other is connected to a cabinet several miles away and clearly will not achieve superfast speeds through the current connection.

We are working to finesse the data and as the project progresses we will be able to give more accurate information.

Do you live in an area where the cabinet has been announced for upgrade?

We have a network of over 200 Champions, but there are still gaps. Also, Champions are individuals with jobs, families and other commitments so they do appreciate help.

We have prepared flyers to be delivered to households where the cabinet has been announced. It is important to let people know that superfast broadband is coming, and later that it is now live and ready for orders. As far as possible the leaflets should be delivered only to the properties that are connected to the cabinet that is to be upgraded, as delivering to someone who is not going to get any benefit yet will simply cause frustration. Therefore we are looking for people to deliver leaflets to a defined list of properties. We are currently working on the lists for the cabinets in Phase 1, and if you would be able to help please email broadband@warwickshire.gov.uk

Events on our website

We have a growing list of local events on our website. Everything from search engine optimisation to making your business mobile – and even a fish and chip night at the Midland Air Museum! For more information see the bottom right pane of our homepage or follow the link: http://www.cswbroadband.org.uk/events/event

New Frequently Asked Questions

We have a fully updated Frequently Asked Questions section on the website. This is updated regularly and is growing month by month. To make it easier to find your way around we have broken the questions down into sections:

  • the maps
  • the rollout
  • once your cabinet has gone live
  • possibly extending the current project
  • the contract
  • the commercial rollout
  • broadband in general

You should find what you are after, but if not then email broadband@warwickshire.gov.uk and we will do our best to help.

Questions and Answers

What sort of broadband speeds can I realistically expect if I’m able to get fibre under the project?

FTTC connection speeds will vary depending on a number of factors but could reach up to 80Mbps. FTTP connections are all capable of 330Mbps but your service provider may offer a range of packages to suit different needs. Factors impacting the final speed attained at a particular premise connected by FTTC include the distance from the street cabinet, the geography, and the wiring within your home or business.

What are you doing about getting additional funding?

The Government has announced additional funds of £3.68m to take superfast broadband coverage up to 95% (our current project will achieve 91%), however this will have to be match funded. In the current economic climate it is not easy to see where the required match funding will come from, but we have recently made a submission through the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership European Structural Investment Funds Strategy for a total of £7.85m. Unfortunately the timing of any allocation from EU funds is unlikely to meet the deadline by which we must apply for the Government funding, so we are actively investigating any and all other funding sources.

We are currently also looking at procurement options for the additional coverage. The areas to be covered by the additional funding will not be known until after the procurement is complete.

Should we go it alone and look for a community solution?

It is entirely possible for a community to decide to raise funding and to employ their own solution. The problem with this approach is that smaller suppliers do not always have the resilience of the larger companies. If you were to go with your own solution and employed a smaller company then you could be facing sustainability issues further down the line. You should also be aware that once an area has superfast broadband then our project will consider it to have turned grey and we can no longer consider it for inclusion under our funding. This is because of State Aid rules which, quite rightly, say that we should not use public money to compete with the private sector.

One final consideration is that the infrastructure that we are providing is a wholesale network. This means that any Internet Service Provider can use the network to provide services to its customers. By offering a range of providers the idea is that there will be competition which will lead to a choice of packages and a range of price-points. You will not have that with a single-supplier network. You could, of course, choose to pay BT Openreach to upgrade the infrastructure in your area, but the costs are likely to be significant. Should you choose to follow this route we can give you contact details of someone within BT who can arrange for quotes.

Sorry if all of this sounds rather negative, but it is best to set a realistic expectation.

Frequently asked general broadband questions can be found on our website at: http://www.cswbroadband.org.uk/faq

CSW Broadband now on social media – come and join the conversation

We are now on the major social media channels and are already creating a buzz. Join in for up-to-date information and an opportunity to influence how the project develops

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