Rural broadband decision goes back to Cabinet

I have prepared this response together with Cooperfarncombe with lines separating Andrew Campling s text from ours.

Author: AndrewCamplingComment:I notice a fair number of comments have been made concerning the off-island community of Ewhurst in Surrey, many based on what appears to be possibly out-of-date information from consultants not actually living in the community. ____________________________________________________

WW: We both live in Surrey and are capable of commuting. On the contrary we shall demonstrate that our data is more accurate than the highly misleading figures you quote.


AC: You may be interested to have the latest position in order to allow any future debate to focus on the facts:

The network in question was fully funded by BT as part of our 2.5bn national programme to provide access to fibre broadband services to 19m premises by next Spring;______________________________________________________

WW: You fail to mention that BT had stated that they were not going to provide FTTC in Ewhurst on 1st March 2010.

In order to have any BT bid, Ewhurst Parish Officers had to sign a Non Disclosure Agreement. Our committee as a whole have not seen the non-compliant offer you made for Ewhurst.

After much scrutiny (and our successful efforts to raise an unsecured bridging loan for the full amount) SEEDA awarded us a RDPE Grant for 180,000 in December 2010 for our selected fully compliant vendor which included a full sustainable fibre distribution network (which BT have still failed to supply). Our vendor included the required 500 line potential capacity for each cabinet. BT then destroyed our approved project by delaying an announcement for a further three months and then stating they would enable the Cranleigh exchange after all.

As there is no contract between us, BT have carried on regardless despite many pleas to increase the capacity we knew was required after our feasibility study. (Yet another 2,300 of public subscriptions down the drain.)

BT has only installed to date three cabinets each with a capacity of 64 and, after delay, increased to 128 services. One of those cabinets is already full. Even if they are expanded to 256 there are insufficient tie cables and duct space.

To expand the PCP 18 and 20 fibre cabinets it will be necessary to inconvenience the community with yet more roadworks.

_________________________________________________________AC: Approximately 95% of premises in the village now have access to fibre broadband;___________________________________________________

WW: We are disturbed that BT have quite obviously become mesmerised by institutionalised fantasy; this is no more than a tissue of innuendo. It clearly illustrates the preposterous weasel words BT is still using on the I o W too. Clearly there is a woeful lack of clarity and attempts to hide a very poor under-invested implementation.

As of today the available Ewhurst capacity is 356 services for approximately 942 premises, many with multiple lines already with some duplicated broadband services on them. (Thus the total requirement is more than 1 service per property as well as some contingency. In some instances duplicated, even one triplicated, services have been obtained to compensate for very bad performances.)

Cabinet 18 has less than 100 VDSL services connected as the cabinet is still reporting availability. It has the smallest compliment of lines but the low number is due to some extent to the lack of sufficient investment in the Distribution side cabling (including aluminium alloy); some parts are in quite atrocious condition, direct-buried in the ground.

BT failed to install any new ducting to the PCP relying on the old GPO duct; there are bound to be further delays and disruption whilst a new duct is installed in the carriageway to support the additional 156 services. Several attempts were necessary just to install a tiny 5 pair telemetry cable in the GPO duct, with the potential to damage other cables in the process.

Cabinet 19 has had a second set of 100 pair tie cables installed after another delay so less than 128 services are connected, as the cabinet is still reporting availability. It is doubtful that another set of 50 pair cables can be forced down the single duct with multiple bends.

Some residents connected to PCP 20 have been waiting (for the third time since mid-October 2012) from 18 July; firstly with an estimated date of August 28 now postponed yet again on August 27 to 25 September, but without any assurance that this date will be met ( these may be liable to change. ) As it was impossible to install a second set of 100 pair tie cables only a 50 pair set was installed via the old GPO duct.

Thus there are only 22 pairs remaining if and when the final 2 * 64 line cards are installed, together with all the internal modifications (on a live cabinet) for additional jumper cables and IDC connector blocks etc.This picture shows initial commissioning in October 2012 before the second line card and 50 pair cables were fitted in 2013. Note lack of lower connector blocks and line card jumper cables.

Somehow a minimum of another set of 100 pairs is also urgently required seemingly without any duct capacity available. Yet more roadworks for the third time ?

____________________________________________________________AC: Take-up of service in the village is running well ahead of the national average, with several hundred residents and businesses showing it offers them a service that they are prepared to buy.___________________________________________________________

WW: As we had provisioned for 1,500 services national averages are of no consequence.

As BT Openreach has a complete monopoly on wired delivery the community has no option but to purchase those sub-standard services, some with quite unacceptable performances down to sub Mbps sync speeds. It is essential that poor performance is addressed. Bad performance is restricting the take-up of services and damaging the UK s economy as a whole.


AC: We are continuing to look at options that will allow us to provide access to fibre broadband services to premises including the remaining 5% in Ewhurst where it is not currently economic for us to do so.________________________________________________

WW: Yet again you fail to recognise that many (approximately 226) services having a poor performance so far below the EC stipulated MINIMUM of 30 Mbps require urgent remedial works now, including the 69 total failures where the BT Wholesale estimator is too embarrassed to say that the cabinets are already enabled for VDSL services.

It is particularly galling that we had already anticipated that VDSL services would only suffice on short lines and hence our SEEDA approved project (In my view destroyed by BT s underhand predatory tactics) included the (SEEDA stipulated) sustainable solution of a complete fibre backbone in new ducts.This fully prepared solution was engineered to extend home fibre to the worst outliers immediately, followed by more towards the centre as speed requirements inevitably increase.

Given that BT s poor partial implementation is already 18 months behind our agreed schedule, our solution would have already been installed for the worst outliers.

We note this is the first time BT has admitted in public that they are now refusing on economic grounds to do what was already included in our approved grant. Because of BT s Commercial actions we are totally frustrated as SCC are unable to provide any other subsidies for others to complete the unfinished works. One approach could be to obtain punitive damages to allow a competent organisation to take over the unacceptable performers and no hopers .

Those outliers on the I o W had better watch out and don t be fooled with a 2 Mbps asymmetric substitute.

Starting from the point of an ambition to give people 2 Mbps is like giving our population a Morse key. You might as well not bother. Peter Cochrane to the H o L Select Committee on Communications 20 March 2012.

The fundamental problem is that BT are investing in sports content rather than the network.

As We are the proud guardians of the nation s local access network, sometimes referred to as the first mile they fail to upgrade of the Public Switched Telephone Network. This has to be a rolling program to replace twisted pairs with fibre to the home. The Communications rail crash** is all amongst us now so if BT are incapable Openreach must surely be totally separated for the BT Group.

It is possible to install new symmetric fibre as others are doing so in small pockets, surely rendering all BT VDSL offerings obsolete and no longer fit for purpose.



AC: Options such as vectoring may help, and in fact we are running a technical trial to assess its suitability at the moment.


WW: Whilst we applaud any remedial trials BT may be considering, perhaps Andrew Campling can confirm our understanding which, if correct, must surely rule out the major additional investment required for such a little gain. If so yet another Jam tomorrow hint bites the dust. This appears yet another diversionary tactic to avoid tackling vital network upgrades.

Apart from any trials, we understand ECI cabinets contain M41 MSANs which are incompatible with vectoring and would require the entire inventory to be replaced with the V41 version.

Similarly apart from any trials, we understand Huawei cabinets contain SmartAX MA5616 MSANs which require an enhanced MA5603 sub-rack to be installed.

Both these units are no longer in production but might presumably be still available in some quantity ?


AC: I hope this is useful, provides you with a more up to date view on what is really happening in Ewhurst._______________________________________________

WW: Instead of this fiction, we look forward to a more pragmatic approach to this pending disaster.




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