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

November UK News

Last month saw some interesting broadband developments UK wide – so here’s a brief update for those who missed them.

 

Firstly it was announced that the Government will introduce a new Ofcom Universal Service Obligation (USO) that will give everyone the legal right to request an ‘affordable’ broadband connection capable of delivering a minimum of 10 Mb/s by 2020. This puts broadband on a similar footing to other basic services – water, electricity …….. Then of course it’s all down to enforcement.

 

Then the Spending Review and Autumn Statement confirmed the spending of public funds amounting to £1.7 billion to take SFBB to 95% of UK premises by the end of 2017 (ie the roll-out of phase 2).

 

Mention was made (but made no final commitment given) to a new broadband investment fund. Interesting that the fund would support the growth of alternative network developers. This could boost the number of alt-nets investing in faster fibre to the premises solutions.

 

What was obvious though was the Government is expecting to reap some substantial savings from using SFBB connectivity – especially from HMRC and online filing of tax returns.

 

The Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) pledged to further improve consumer switching between broadband ISP and the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) to investigate if they are hiding the true cost of their services via line rentals, teaser rates etc. Proposals in the Spring.

 

Finally – Ofcom has just launched its WiFi checker app which allows tablet and smartphone users to check on how good their WiFi is (ie the wireless connection between your router and device within your home) and gives some tips to improve things. (Even Christmas tree lights can slow your WiFi connection down!). Check it out on  http://consumers.ofcom.org.uk/news/ofcom-launches-wifi-checker/ Not a complete check (no mention of channels) but maybe some use.

 

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More Fibre Connections in the Parish

I’ve not got a map for this one – only a notification that fibre broadband is available in my area. Putting two and two together, it looks as if the Spark Bridge cabinet is now enabled and this seems correct when I test a few phone numbers on the BT Openreach site – which you can reach via the Connecting Cumbria site (link on the previous blog).
 
So, if you live in the Sparkbridge area or in the LA12 8HE or 8HF postcode areas, it’s likely that you can now get a much better connection. Check it out and then contact your ISP. Please let me know what speeds are available to you and how you get on with your new fibre connection when you get it.
 
I use the word ‘likely’ as there are exceptions within a postcode – unfortunately I’m one of them!! 

Live in Greenodd

The cabinet centred on Penny Bridge is now fibre enabled. Those of you in the south west of the Parish – up to round the Tottlebank area should be able to access much better speeds than you have currently.
 
The advice is to check on the Connecting Cumbria web site to confirm that you can get fibre broadband and then contact your internet service provider to find out what superfast offers and speeds are available and how to order. 

Phase 2 and the Oxen Park Area

The worst served broadband area in the Parish is currently the area around Oxen Park with frequent down time and speeds very little better than dial up. This is causing increasingly severe problems for the 17+ businesses and voluntary organisations and has been a source of frequent complaints.

 

There was considerable dismay when the final phase 1 maps were produced when it became obvious that, contrary to what we were led to believe, the area would be untouched by phase 1 and would have to struggle on with what it had.

 

Since then, the Parish Council has thrown its weight behind a detailed report, which was then submitted to Connecting Cumbria, showing the effects of the phase 1 decision (thanks to those who replied to the survey) and making suggestions as to how the area might be cost effectively connected.

 

There’s been quite a bit of correspondence as a result of this and the news is now looking more hopeful. We’ve had confirmation that the area is part of the phase 2 intervention area and that the area looks a ‘good candidate’ for phase 2.

 

No timescale yet although it is probable that we will hear something before the end of the year. Meantime we keep the dialogue going making sure we engage with Connecting Cumbria on a regular basis.

Just in – Phase 2 Intervention Areas

Connecting Cumbria have just published maps of the phase 2 intervention areas, which have now been approved by BDUK.

 

The map of particular interest is the intervention area for superfast broadband which can be found via this link:   phase 2 intervention area SFBB. Those in the white areas are within the intervention area. Those in the shaded areas either already are covered under phase 1 or – more contentiously – are deemed to be covered in the future by commercial providers.

 

More details and additional maps are on CC’s site at www.connectingcumbria.org.uk/latest-news

 

Before getting too excited (!!) a reminder that this defines the areas where phase 2 monies (now £9.6m) may (not will) be spent. The original £5.7m phase 2 money was going to take the County from 93% coverage (phase 1) to 95% coverage by the end of phase 2 (end 2017). The extra money should push the fibre out further.

 

So what now? BT – which has the contract for phase 2 - are undertaking a detailed modelling exercise, to be followed up with on the ground surveys before coming up with a preliminary list of which areas will actually get fibre connections. My guess is that these will centre on the more compact communities where many premises can be served by a single cabinet and those communities where the cabinet can readily be connected into the existing fibre network. New technology being trialled and the selective use of fibre to the premises will, I’m sure, make the money go further.  

Latest - Newby Bridge Cabinet Enabled

newby bridge SFBB

 

The Newby Bridge cabinet which serves the Lakeside and Finsthwaite part of our Parish has just been fibre enabled.

 

If you live in the area in the central part of the map – which covers the part of the Parish from Newby Bridge Hotel up to Lakeside hotel – you should expect to get 24 Mb/s or more. Looking at the map, most people in Finsthwaite, although not likely to get this sort of speed, should be getting a considerable improvement over what’s been on offer hitherto.

 

Check it out on  www.connectingcumbria.org.uk/when-and-where (Remember to accept the conditions on their web site or you will not be able to find the map. Note also that they have not updated the map and changed the colour of this circle of the map from pink to blue)

 

Important: you will not receive the SFBB service automatically: you have to check with your internet service provider (ISP) that the service is available through them. If not, you may have to change your ISP.

 

Would be good to have feedback as to how things work out for you when you do get connected. What speeds are you actually getting? What’s the benefit to you?

More Money & New Technology

An extra £3.9m has been found to push fibre out futher into rural areas of Cumbria. This has been found from monies saved by not further improving BT’s copper network (a BDUK national decision) and by BT bringing forward money because of good take up of SFBB in Cumbria. Let’s hope we can get a share of this…….

 

 

New technology (going by the name of G.Fast) is currently being trialled nationally which can be expected to make SFBB more cost effective to bring to remote areas. This technology gives much higher speeds from the fibre enabled cabinet (120Mb/s instead of current 80 Mb/s) and so gives a greater range from the cabinet before the signal degrades to less than SFBB.

Phase 1 Progress

Apologies for rubbing salt into the wounds of those left behind by phase 1 (that includes me!) but good progress, albeit behind the original schedules, is being made in connecting cabinets which impact on our Parish. The current situation is:

 

Newby Bridge 2 live cabinets (350 premises – most outside Colton Parish). Phase 1 Work in progress: Newby Bridge 3 cabinets (200 premises); Greenodd 4 cabinets (500 premises); Satterthwaite 1 cabinet (60 premises). Lowick Bridge 1 cabinet (70 premises).

Planned for phase 1: Additional cabinets attached to Lowick Bridge, Newby Bridge.

 

All those in the Oxen Park area - Info Please

The (vigorous!) feedback I have so far from the Oxen Park area (the worst part of the current ‘broadband desert’) is that we should try to get something done about the situation as quickly as possible. Download speeds of 0.35 Mb/s – not atypical for the area were unacceptable several years ago but in 2015 they are causing real hardship for the everyone relying on the internet for business and personal use.

 

If you live in Oxen Park, Bandrake Head or the northern end of Colton village, then you should have received a short questionnaire the answers from which will be important when compiling a report next week for Connecting Cumbria and BT.

 

I’d be grateful for returns by this coming Saturday (19th Sept) either by e-mail (mike@postle.co) or by dropping the questionnaire off at the Manor (Thanks Lorraine and Terry for providing a drop off point). If you can encourage your neighbours to fill in the questionnaire, that would be helpful and allow an accurate picture of current connectivity to be obtained.

 

The Parish council at their last meeting were clearly very unhappy about the gaps in provision of SFBB which have been left after phase 1 and are keen to help markedly improve the situation as quickly as possible. Keeping your councillors (Parish and County) informed about how living with last century’s connectivity is impacting on you can only be helpful.