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

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.

 

Winners and losers in the Parish

The Newby Bridge area will be well served by cabinets and the maps are showing SFBB will become available northwards through Lakeside and Finsthwaite. The area centred on the Bouth cabinet will be well served, so too the area east of the Spark Bridge cabinet.

 

So where are the losers? Nibthwaite itself is looking as if it may (just) get some benefit from being at the far range of the Spark Bridge cabinet but east of here (Bandrake Head, Oxen Park, Crosslands & Rusland) is a broadband desert. Colton itself is at the far range of the Spark Bridge cabinet and may or may not get much benefit – certainly SFBB will be unattainable.  

 

What’s to be done? We can wait for phase 2 and hope that the plans – due to be sketched out by June 2016 - for this phase -  include our ‘not spots’. We may though decide to be more active to give ourselves the best chance of obtaining something which is rapidly becoming a standard service for most of the UK. Have a word with your councillors and let them know what you think. Could be a good time in the Autumn to have another meeting – what’s your view?

All about the Timing

There are a couple of cabinets already live in the Newby Bridge area on the southern flank of our Parish. All the others serving our Parish are officially due to go live sometime in Spring 2016 – so some more slippage here. The big driver of schedules at the moment is the need to draw down as much EU funding as possible by September and so projects which can be funded in this way are currently being prioritised.

 

Looking around for good news……. During this time, there may be some additional work done beyond that currently planned for phase 1 as there is an underspend in the budget and additional money has been brought forward because of the projected take-up of SFBB in Cumbria.  

Phase 1 – AT LAST!! Detailed maps now available

Connecting Cumbria and BT have now released a detailed interactive map of which areas are going to get improved speeds as a result of the public investment in phase 1 of the Connecting Cumbria project. It can be found on www.connectingcumbria.org.uk/when-and-where

 

The map shows a series of concentric (sometimes overlapping) circles centred on those cabinets which are connected by fibre to the enabled exchanges. The signal is then carried from the cabinet to homes and businesses through the old copper wire system – and this is where the signal (and hence speeds) degrades.

 

Those of you within the inner circles (roughly a mile radius from the cabinet) can expect to get superfast broadband (above 24 Mb/s). The speed will then fall off from there so that at the boundaries of the second circles, there will be no improvement over what you have now.   

 

I’ll be commenting on the implications for our Parish in what will probably be a spate of blogs coming up………….

 

A little white dish on the Church flagpole & very high speed Broadband

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A sunny Saturday afternoon saw a steady stream of people bringing smart phones and tablets to Colton Church Hall, connecting up to the demonstration Wi-Fi link and experiencing speeds of the order of 40 Mb/s both up and downstream. Also showing was a continuous streaming from the BBC iPlayer and a demonstration of videoconferencing. Oh the joys of high definition pictures, no delays and virtually no buffering! At one stage, there were 17 people all connected with no noticeable decrease in speeds.

 

The demonstration, courtesy of WMY Systems Ltd, certainly showed that the technology – which relied on radio links and fed back into the B4RN network across Morecambe Bay - worked well and has the potential to be a cost effective solution to bringing Superfast (or even ultrafast) Broadband to rural areas such as ours.

 

Interest was expressed at keeping up to date with developments of the system: I’ll keep you up to speed through this blog. Apart from the technological aspect of the afternoon, it was good to see folks meeting together on a sunny Saturday afternoon – something to be repeated I think.

Superfast Colton - A reminder

Colton school is now a (temporary) WiFi point. It’s been connected up to the ultra fast B4RN network across Morecambe Bay and relayed by radio link to the school room in preparation for tomorrow (Saturday) afternoon’s demonstration (From 2 until 5 pm). A few minutes ago we were getting 40 mb/s up and down stream via WiFi to a smart phone – which is about as fast as the phone and WiFi will handle.
 
Bring your lap top, phone or tablet tomorrow afternoon and find out what you can do with this sort of speed.  

100 times the speed – Come and check it out!

Regular readers of this blog will know that phase 1 of the Connecting Cumbria project is beginning to make inroads into our area bringing fibre to the nearest cabinet and letting the existing copper wires take fast (hopefully superfast – 24 Mb/s or above) broadband to our premises. Not everyone will get the service this way and phase 2 is looking to other commercial suppliers and other technologies – notably radio technologies - to fill in the gaps.

 

We have an opportunity to check out this new radio technology with Ted Walsh of WMY Systems Ltd on Saturday afternoon April 18th (2 till 5 pm) at Colton Church Hall. There will be a WiFi signal which should deliver round about 130 Mb/s – 100 times the speed I often get. So bring your smart phone, iPad or lap top any time during the afternoon and find out what you can do with this sort of speed. It’s an ideal opportunity to get together, have a chat and explore what the new technology will allow us to do. Hope to see you there.   

 

Please let your friends know about this opportunity – the more the merrier!

Super fast Bouth - Soon

Bouth properties are currently connected via an ‘exchange only’ line, meaning that the lines go straight to the exchange and not via a cabinet. This type of connection has posed some issues for BT which have now largely been overcome.
 
The latest information is that Bouth will be served by three new cabinets – one becoming live early Summer 2015 with the other two planned for the end of 2015. We are currently unable to say which properties will be connected to which cabinet but I’ll relay this news as soon as it becomes available. 

It's Live!

Newby Bridge (Cabinet 4) is the first SFBB connection to be made in our Parish – Connecting Cumbria has just informed me that it’s now live!
 
Getting SFBB is not automatic though: you need to contact your ISP (Internet Service Provider) and see if they offer the service. Not all ISPs will, so you may have to change ISPs to get it. Will it cost more? Obviously depends what you are paying now but probably ‘yes’. In my book though it will be well worth it.
 
If you do change to SFBB, please drop me an e-mail with any observations you may have (mike@postle.co).

No Phase 2 for our area?

It’s just as well that phase 1 looks as if it will deliver for our area because it’s unlikely that phase 2 will. The £5.7m of public phase 2 money can only be spent where there is a ‘market failure’.

 

Recent consultations with potential providers (including with BT) seem to indicate that over the next two to three years, these commercial providers will cover many of the areas left out by phase 1: hence no public money here.  Which leaves about 8,500 premises in Allerdale, Copeland and some remoter parts of the Lake District seemingly eligible for the funding.

 

So just who are these potential commercial providers? They are for the most part relatively small and rely on radio technology: a technology which has recently made great strides to becoming a real rival to the fibre to cabinet solutions currently being progressed.   

 

Whether or not these providers have the capacity to fill the gaps on a commercial basis is the subject of an assessment process being undertaken before the plans for phase 2 are finalised by June.