Colton Superfast Broadband Why it's important and how we can get it......Mike Postle (mike@postle.co)

Oxen Park Power Plan Approved

A quick update from Connecting Cumbria about the cabinet in Oxen Park. It will not have passed Oxen Park residents by that the promised cabinet has not materialised....... yet. It is coming I am assured and the good news is that the plan to supply the necessary power to it has now been approved by ENW. The uncertainty now is that to supply the power a road closure is needed (we seem to have had a fair few of these recently) and they are waiting for the formalities to complete.
 
For those of you in this neck of the woods (Colton) like myself, I’m promised an update in the immediate future. Almost certainly any cost effective long term solution will rely on tapping into the fibre being laid to Oxen Park. Watch this space.....
  

Oxen Park Update

Connecting Cumbria inform me that they plan to stand the cabinet in Oxen Park this month and that Openreach are still working with Electricity North West to try to reduce the power costs. Hopefully the haggling will be quick and successful from our point of view. When you see a green box appearing near the Manor House pub, let me know: it could be an excuse for a celebration!!
 
Meanwhile in this part of Colton, we battle on but it’s looking like 2018 before we get a half decent connection. Wish us luck!!

Update: The Bigger picture

I’m playing catch-up here as, although the year started slowly (well at least as far as Broadband is concerned), the pace of events seems to be picking up. So here goes:
 
1) The Digital Economy Act, which became law in April, enabled the creation of a new broadband universal service obligation (USO) giving every household and business the right to request a broadband connection of 10 Mbs minimum speed. There is now a consultation going on (closing date 9th Oct) prior to possible secondary legislation bring a scheme in by 2020. See https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/broadband-universal-service-obligation-consultation-on-design
 
2) Meanwhile BT have made a conditional offer to do the job with minimum 10 Mbs download and 1 Mbs upload speeds by 2022 for 99% of premises in the Country without further public funding provided USO  regulations are not progressed. Where’s the money coming from? Well customer bills of course......
 
The Government is now working with BT to help it develop its proposal which would be legally binding if accepted. However there are mutterings that a deal is being done behind closed doors. 
 
BT are indicating that they would use a range of technologies to get this coverage – with Fixed Wireless Access featuring as well as Fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) and to the premises (FTTP).
 
3) So which way to go? It’s sparked some lively debate with hub coordinators but I think it’s fair to say that with a number of caveats and assurances, the consensus of opinion is that we are likely to get quicker action with less paperwork if BT is mandated to get on with it. Have a look on the web and see what you think.
 
4) Turning now to closer to home. Phase 1 of Connecting Cumbria has now been completed – having exceeded the targets it was set. There have been just short of 3,000 SF connections added under phase 2 to date but there are now more obstacles being encountered. The target is 11,000 premises by the end of the 2018/19 financial year – Oxen Park being in that mix – getting to 98% fibre connected of which 94% will be over 24 Mbs (SFBB).
 
 
 

Updates - and a reminder

First of all – a Happy New Year to everyone. Let’s hope we continue to make good progress in getting SFBB to our Parish.
 
I’ve been advised that the final hurdle for Oxen Park has been surmounted and that the fibre cabinet is poised for installation. However we’ve still not got a final date for when the work will be done.
 
For those of us in Colton Hamlet, the news is that the gain share modelling has been completed and the results are with BDUK – the Government Body which is responsible for approvals. Again there’s a ‘however’. This time it’s the fact that we don’t yet know where the fibre structures are, which have been modelled, so we don’t know if our part of the world is included. Fingers etc crossed!
 
Finally a reminder. Those of you who have access to SFBB need to contact your ISP to get it. I understand that about 10% of the newly connected Finsthwaite/Newby Bridge properties are connected to FTTP now. The County average is running at about 30% so hopefully we can move towards that figure fairly quickly. Apart from encouraging the use of a far better service (at little or no extra cost), a good take-up benefits everyone through the ‘gain share’ mechanism which gives money back to Connecting Cumbria to extend SFBB rural coverage.

Bouth missing!

Oh dear – I forgot to say anything about Bouth in my last posting. Actually it’s a bit of good news that I missed out. The good folks of Bouth are now served from a cabinet in the village and the FTTC arrangement  seems to be delivering Superfast speeds or thereabouts. According to my correspondent, who lives about a quarter of a mile from the cabinet, the copper wire to his home is delivering about 24 Mb/s download and about 6 Mb/s upload. Not too sure how the extremities of the village are going on – perhaps someone might like to let me know.......
 
 

Looking at the wider picture

Things are happening on the National scene as well which may help us in Colton Parish in the future. Here’s some of the key ones:
  • Connecting Cumbria phase 1 is still going having exceeded the original targets & now reaching what they term more challenging targets. There’s also a change of emphasis to increase superfast coverage (above 24 Mb/s): in line with general expectations as to what constitutes and acceptable speed in today’s world.
  • Phase 2 is underway with 8 cabinets live with a further 18 planned to be live by end of March. This will include an additional Newby Bridge cabinet.
  • Detailed planning has been going on for some time concerning the second and third tranches of phase 2 – where we should be finding Oxen Park in the list. We’ll know more in the New Year.
  • 4G mobile broadband: Contract with EE for provision of coverage across the County by the end of this coming year. Planning permission has been given for a mast north of Oxen Park - (Not without its controversy) - but it may be part of the solution to bringing SFBB economically to some of the more difficult to reach parts of our Parish – at least in the short term.
  •  The idea of a 10 Mb/s speed, for the 1.4m of us unable to dream of even such modest speeds, is creeping forward but currently is still at ‘examining the Options’ stage. Last week Ofcom released its analysis of what it would cost for various scenarios. (Anywhere from £1bn to £1.7bn since you ask). Who picks up the tab? Ofcom’s  assumption is that consumers will through an addition of anywhere between £11 to £20 per year.
  • And finally – an announcement today that the Government has announced a funding pot of £400m to deliver SFBB speeds for up to 600,000 premises. Interestingly the money will be found from ‘efficiency savings’ and ‘clawback’ related to take-up of SFBB. I’m a bit confused about this as we are already benefitting from a clawback mechanism (‘Gainshare’) related to SFBB takeup. Is the same money being counted twice? We’ll have to wait and see.
There’s clearly a head of steam building up to get the job done but expectations and technology always seem to be ahead of the curve. 2017 promises to be just as interesting as 2016 has been.
 
 
 
 
 

Taking Stock

It’s probably a good time to take stock and see where we are in our mission to get Colton Parish properly connected to the superfast highway. So here goes:
 
Colton Hamlet – South – sub SFBB but getting decent speed of about 15 Mb/s download from Spark Bridge cabinet. Houses towards Oxen Park – still poor connectivity – subject of community fibre quote: awaiting Connecting Cumbria decision how much they may or may not fund. (Jan??)
 
Oxen Park – very poor connectivity – been told this is to be funded early in Connecting Cumbria’s phase 2. Cabinet planned outside Manor pub for Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC). (Exactly when is unknown but we’re actively engaged!)
 
Finsthwaite – connected Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) – and blistering speeds now available.
 
Nibthwaite – Poor connectivity via Lowick Bridge exchange.  Connecting Cumbria- no current plans. Currently collecting details locally so we can take this via other routes.
 
Rusland and other areas to north of Parish connected via Satterthwaite exchange many getting about 5 Mb/s speeds which isn’t as bad as some areas but still very much below par. Connecting Cumbria have no current plans here. A submission was made via community fibre route for the 60 or so properties but a totally unrealistic price quoted by BT in response. There are a couple of options worth exploring with the community here involving the mobile infrastructure or a local radio network. So still work to do.
 
Image result for christmas tree images clip artA very Happy Christmas to everyone and all the best for 2017Image result for christmas tree images clip art
 

Finsthwaite & Lakeside now live

I’ve just been told that the long awaited connections to Finsthwaite and Lakeside have now been commissioned and Fibre to the Premise (FTTP) is now available for you lucky people – provided you order it of course.
 
It may be as well to give your ISP a couple of days to be geared up for orders and you may well find that your ISP will not be offering the service – in which case you will need to change ISP to get it. My information is that only AAISP, Zen and BT are offering this service in these two areas at the moment.
 
If you order FTTP, let me know how you go on ............

Some useful links

Both the workshops at Greenodd and Finsthwaite earlier this month were well attended and dealt with some of the issues which were relevant to each community. Phil, in his usual engaging way, took us through a lot of useful information concerning the increasing importance of using superfast broadband to access a wide range of services, to create jobs and make real savings. His presentation can be found on the Connecting Cumbria web site or by clicking this link - digital inclusion. It’s well worth looking at.
 
There are three really useful pages of links to other sites which list sites for Speed testing, On line training & Education, Help & advice sources, Health & Support Solutions, Media and Communications. There’s also a useful check list for choosing and ISP and how to save money doing it. They can be accessed from the presentation or by clicking the links below:
 
 
We’ll try to organise another event when a few more of us have been connected to superfast broadband.   
 
 

Did you miss it?

Nearly 40 people were treated last night to a really informative Digital Workshop at Finsthwaite Village Hall. Run by Connecting Cumbria’s Phil Ruston, who delivered it in his usual engaging style, everyone came away knowing a lot more about what’s happening and how they can make maximum use of the opportunities presented by the broadband upgrades which are well underway in our area.
 
If you missed it, then there’s a second opportunity to meet Phil, ask questions and hear what he’s got to say – at Greenodd Village Hall tonight starting 7 p.m.. It’s a good use of a Friday evening!!