MIlton Keynes is a city that already has the metro fibre services from CityFibre meaning that businesses can order full fibre connectivity and thus adds to the choice of existing Ethernet and leased line services but today the bigs news is that the Vodafone and CityFibre partnership that is targetting the consumer market with fibre to the home (full fibre) is go.
With population and employment growth and high levels of productivity, Milton Keynes has been identified by the Centre for Cities as one of five Fast Growth Cities in the UK, with significant potential for the future. Vodafone and CityFibre are committed to helping the city, which celebrated its 50th anniversary last year, to meet this potential through the provision of a future-proofed digital network on a par with the best connected cities in the world. CityFibre will start construction of the new FTTP network in Milton Keynes in March this year.
This will be an extension of its existing 160km full fibre network in the city. CityFibre will use modern build techniques to deploy the network quickly and minimise disruption. Once completed, nearly every business and home in Milton Keynes will have FTTP access.
Milton Keynes is no stranger to full fibre since 13.4% of premises already have access to the wholesale Openreach GEA-FTTP services and while there are still some roughly 2,000 premises with sub USO standard broadband access the superfast services are available to 97.9% of premises.
So the majority of people will already have access to decent speeds and thus this is a test of how many want the faster speeds or want to ditch BT, TalkTalk, Sky in favour of Vodafone. The cost is largely irrelevant as this is private money but they are saying an initial investment of at least GBP40m and with their already being a 160km full fibre ring serving the business community a good deal of the core work is already done. If the GBP40m is all that gets spent then it suggests a cost of GBP360 to GBP400 pre property will be spent.
NOTE: The simple divisor route suggests GBP359 but as the press release is not saying ALL premises but NEARLY ALL then a lot hinges on how many are missed out and the number of businesses present in our overall premises count. We really do hope for the sanity of residents that those stuck with just ADSL2+ options and slow speeds will be some of the first to see the roll-out down their street. In terms giving the city a head start over its competitors, Kingston Upon Hull is leading the pack with 71.7% full fibre coverage, if you use the gold standard measure of full fibre connectivity but KCOM has already announced the plan to go to 100%.
East Riding of Yorkshire at 36.8% is the next most full fibre local authority again done to KCOM and the third place entry will surprise some as with 33.4% there is the small City of London authority. Of course if you don’t care what the delivery medium is then you can include DOCSIS cable in addition to full fibre services and with places like Watford at 95.2% and Portsmouth 94.8% coverage for services with 100 Mbps and faster download speeds. For those who cannot wait there is a pre-registration site that Vodafone is running at https://www.vodafone.co.uk/broadband/ultrafast but it is not inspiring confidence that on the day of the big launch the site has a simple message saying they are making a few tweaks, the tweak message has been present since we started the day at 9am and as we write at 10am is still present.
Update 10:25am Of course just after publishing the news article, the ultrafast broadband registration site is now up and running. The current provider list is interesting as it only features Virgin Media, Sky As a helper for any people who write broadband press releases, talking about downloading a set of CT scan images at 2 Gigabyte in size means nothing to consumers, and hospitals should not be on a residential broadband network but full business grade services with diverse routing off-site etc.
Alternatives that the public will understand readily are the ability to stream multiple HD or UHD films and at the same time able to stream video from someone playing a video game and broadcasting to a service like twitch. The other angle is the size of all the patches for the games that parents buy their kids (or themselves) and avoiding the screams as they wait for the game to let them play as it wants to download another 5GB to 10GB of updates, or worse they’ve bought a digital download where 100GB downloads are not uncommon today. Selling full fibre to the public if they are already enjoying speeds of 30 to 40 Mbps and their video experience is buffer free is going to be interesting, so we may start to see rather than a focus on speed more talk about reliability i.e. no more 30 second to 2 minute outages during a resync.
Though with so many people using Wi-Fi exclusively any operator pushing full fibre on reliability grounds will need to ensure they have the worlds best router and Wi-Fi diagnostics and also plan capacity in such a way that the dreaded buffering symbol never shows up.
The low price of consumer broadband and thus the shared capacity nature in the backhaul and interlink networks means that ensuring people don’t see the buffering symbol is very complex and expensive.
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The East Riding of Yorkshire straddles both KCom and the traditional BT network areas and the BDUK process has seen phase one deliver well over 42,000 superfast premises and around another 5,000 premises from the phase two project in the Openreach footprint, which means the contracted goal of 4,500 properties with access to superfast broadband looks set to be reached. The project as is common with most of the other BDUK projects has identified savings and there is the addition of gainshare (claw back) money coming back as take-up passes through various milestones and this means the project in partnership with BT has announced ?6.198m of money will be going back into delivering a superfast broadband option to more premises in the council area. The expectation at this stage is that some 2,200 premises will benefit from the extra money, which is a substaintially higher cost per premises (~?2,800) than the earlier stages but fits in with the way that the more populated areas were helped in the earlier stages rather than an outside in approach.
The roll-out is likely to involve parts of some 50 villages and towns and will be a mixture of FTTC and FTTP. An extra 2,200 premises of coverage will potentially add another 1.5 percentage points to the superfast totals in the area. The press release talks about fibre to the remote node which had a small fanfare a couple of years ago, but generally because the VDSL2 service delivered is just the same as the normal FTTC product no one pays much attention.
The advantage of the smaller nodes (which are essentially a small waterproof metal box) is that their size makes them more suited to remote rural deployment particularly where you are looking to serve a cluster of 10 to 30 premises while avoiding the costs and time of delivering full fibre to each of those.
The areas where this extra roll-out is expected to feature is Atwick, Bewholme, Brandesburton, Bridlington, Carnaby, East Garton, Eastrington, Elstronwick, Gowdall, Grindale, Halsham, Hayton, Hollym, Holme-upon-Spalding-Moor, Howden, Humbleton, Hutton Cranswick, Kilpin, Laxton, Londesborough, Melbourne, Nunburnholme, Patrington, Rimswell, Roos, Skipsea, Snaith and Cowick, South Cliffe, Sutton upon Derwent, Thornton, Warter, Withernsea, Yapham.
Of course plans are always subject to change and there is no guarantee that any one of the areas will see 100% coverage, so it is keep an eye on the roll-out plans and changes in your area.
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Over 2,000 extra homes and businesses in the East Riding are to benefit from superfast broadband. It’s thanks to a multi million pound boost to the Broadband East Riding project that will see improvements to 2,200 more homes and businesses. The Broadband East Riding partnership, between BDUK, East Riding of Yorkshire Council and BT Group, has already made fibre broadband available to more than 42,000 premises across the East Riding.
More than 50 villages and towns are expected to be included in the extended roll out, including Bridlington and Carnaby. Councillor Jonathan Owen, deputy leader of East Riding of Yorkshire Council, said:
“The council welcomes the news that even more homes and businesses in the East Riding will benefit from superfast broadband, but we know that there is still more to do. Good, reliable internet connection is vitally important to many aspects of modern life, whether that be keeping in contact with family and friends or for businesses to remain competitive and provide timely services and products for customers.
As the switchover to superfast is not automatic, the council strongly advises people to check their postcode at broadband.eastriding.gov.uk to identify if they are eligible to switch over and to then shop around for the best deal with an internet service provider of their choice.”