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

The Curious Case of the Disappearing Maps

or Sir Humphry and the Vampire Death Squid.

 

Back at the beginning of this month, we were told to anticipate the imminent publication of some maps. These would provide a very rough indication of the planned location of areas which would get superfast broadband. Now, apparently, these are not going to be released.

Who or what is preventing their publication remains a mystery. The County Council has said that it is BT which is preventing publication: commercial sensitivity and the fact that the maps are only a first stab at coverage and are likely to change – are cited as reasons.

Cumbria is not the only council in this position and it created a bit of a row at the hearing of the Commons Public Accounts Committee on July 17th.

What a fascinating glimpse into the world of the Civil Service and the exercise of commercial monopoly the transcript provides!  [Bedtime reading on: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmselect/cmpubacc/uc474-i/uc47401.htm ]

Perhaps the most extraordinary turn of events was when Sean Williams, BT Director of Strategy, gave evidence that BT did not object to local authorities publishing local information and that this was a matter for individual local authorities.

Not-withstanding this, at local level, it appears that BT is still blocking the publication of the maps.

So at the moment, the procedure is the one we have followed to date: registration of our Parish’s interest and getting back a Parish average SSBB coverage. This kick starts the community engagement process as the detailed roll-out takes place.

I don’t think for a moment that this is the last word on the matter as there is definitively a political head of steam building…………

Oh - and the sub title to this piece - well that's the bedtime reading. Anyone fancy drawing a cartoon?  (to mike@postle.co)

 

Register your interest - again!

The BT Openreach site also contains some useful information and a registration form to allow you to register your interest. Worth getting as many people to fill it in so that we keep the pressure on......www.superfast-openreach.co.uk/expression-gen.aspx

 

Register your Interest

Connecting Cumbria have updated their web site and it contains much useful information about the planned roll out of superfast broadband.

Under ‘When & Where’ [www.connectingcumbria.org.uk/when-and-where] there is a clickable link to allow you to register your interest.

Please get as many people and businesses to register as not only will they then keep you updated but your registration will serve to ensure that the project team realise the importance we attach to getting a decent connection.

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Latest News – Connecting Colton

We’ve just been informed that the current tentative plans for the Connecting Cumbria roll out of Superfast Broadband envisage that 70% of Colton Parish will be enabled at 24 Mb/s or more. The remaining 30% will receive between 2 and 24 Mb/s.

These plans will change as detailed design work is undertaken and the technology improves. If we want to make sure the Parish gets the best deal possible, we will need to be proactive and work closely with the County Council and BT as the Connecting Cumbria roll out progresses.

 

Stop Press – Parish Meetings arranged

Well I’ve managed to fix three meetings in the West, East and Central parts of the Parish. I am aware that it’s holiday time but hopefully one of the dates is convenient for you.

The meetings that have been arranged are:

Thursday 1st August 7 pm start at the Manor, Oxen Park.

Wednesday 7th August 7pm start at the Farmers Arms, Lowick

Thursday 8th August 7pm start at the Lakeside Hotel.

Our grateful thanks to the management of the three venues who have given these facilities free of charge for our community use.

I would envisage that the meetings will last about an hour and will be a chance to catch up with developments so far, to express interest in bringing superfast broadband to the Parish and to start the process of gathering evidence of just how important we view it for us at home and the continuing success of our businesses.

Do come along to one of the meetings - All Welcome!

Why not combine it with a chat round the bar and book a meal. (Something we’ve often done at the Manor when we’ve had an Oil Syndicate meeting there).

Focus on Colton Parish

So far an exchange roll out plan has been published with Ulverston listed amongst those exchanges for upgrading first – by the end of this year.

Of importance to our Parish, Newby Bridge is listed as having an initial evaluation completed & now awaiting engineers’ site visits. Greenodd has not yet had an initial evaluation.

The North Yorkshire experience tells us that the initial estimates of who can get superfast broadband tend to be pessimistic. As the detailed design work is done, the areas which can not be covered by superfast broadband tend to shrink and the areas where there is likely to be continued poor coverage  are redefined.

At the moment we are waiting to see which postcodes in the Parish are scheduled to get what service. If we assume that most if not all of the Parish is not scheduled for superfast broadband what can we do about it?

This is where community involvement will be crucial. We will need a list of properties and businesses, together with their postcodes and a small amount of additional information, to sign up to support bringing superfast broadband to their premises.

Business support, including home based business, is particularly important and there is the potential of grant funding here (with some very tight timescales for spending it). Supporting such a survey does not commit anyone to purchasing a particular product but is a demonstration of potential demand.

A team of designers will be available to work with communities such as ours to reach the optimum solution – Let’s get in early!

I am proposing to hold three open meetings to kickstart this process, hopefully to enlist volunteers and demonstrate the extent of demand in Colton parish. Dates and venues on my next post…………

What’s going on in Cumbria?

There are approximately 251,000 premises in Cumbria. The commercial roll-out of superfast broadband technology aims to cover 46% of these. Connecting Cumbria is the County Council run project for building on the commercial investments of BT and others and making sure that we get the best broadband connections in Cumbria that are possible. Connecting Cumbria aims to connect a further 47% of premises with superfast broadband technology. Information and news on  -   http://www.connectingcumbria.org.uk

 

The project has a budget of £51m made up from a number of sources and has a target to bring superfast broadband (up to 80 Mb/s) to 93% of Cumbrian homes and businesses: the remaining 7% to get at least 2Mb/s – all by 2015. BT is the chosen contractor and they aim to roll the project out using the same teams that are currently engaged in the commercial roll out. Roll-out is scheduled for completion by the end of 2015.

A Tale of Two Thirds/One Third: the Background Facts……..

The UK superfast broadband policy, as outlined in the ‘Digital Britain’ report [www.official-documents.gov.uk/document/cm76/7650/7650.pdf], recognised the importance to the UK economy of delivering superfast broadband across the Country. It gave targets of a universal 2 Mb/s service to all by 2012 (since put back to 2015) and 90% coverage at superfast 40 Mb/s by 2017. (Worth a read – even if only the executive summary).

BT Openreach is in the process of upgrading its core network to carry superfast broadband where it is commercially viable. About two thirds of the UK will be covered by this upgrade including Barrow and Dalton.  Which leaves the final one third, where connection is not thought to be commercially viable. Colton Parish is certainly in this category.

Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) is the Body tasked with working with local authorities to connect up the ‘final third’ (Incidentally which represents about 85% of the UK land mass). It will do this with an allocation of £530m of public money and aims to stimulate commercial investment in – mostly rural – areas where investment has not been commercially viable.

To finish this piece on an optimistic note: It’s worth noting that commercial viability is constantly changing as the technology improves. It’s quite likely that areas which currently look as if they will never get a good connection will ultimately end up with one……

So just what is superfast broadband?

It’s only a few year’s ago that most of us connected our computers using a dial-up connection through the phone line. The noises we could hear coming down the phone line carried about 56 thousand bits of information every second. That was fine for exchanging e-mails but pictures and other graphics seemed to take forever.

Then came along broadband – still using the copper wires which connect our phones - and the use of the internet took off. Shopping, running our business from home and many other uses became possible. My broadband runs at about 30 times dial up speeds [1.5 Mb/s], the UK average is 125 times dial up speed [7 Mb/s] and the maximum possible over copper wires is just under 430 times this speed [24Mb/s].

1 Mb/s - 1 million bits of information per second being carried to your computer - sounds impressive but even that is not enough for many of today’s applications - using video - for example. (The iPlayer is a waste of time here: not enough bits per second being delivered to us……)

Superfast Broadband is generally taken to mean anything above what copper wires can carry ie above 24Mb/s. The UK is in the middle of building a comprehensive network of optical fibre connections to replace copper wires. It’s these fibres which will carry information at speeds anything up to 300Mb/s and beyond……and that opens up a whole new world of possibilities.