We have been in touch with Fastershire and its team has helped us to get a clearer idea about the ‘problem’ and it has helped us to identify a couple of potential solutions.
There appear to be just over 700 new properties on Coopers Edge (along and to the north of Lobleys Drive) which are currently showing on BT’s Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) database. Of these 97 can already access a superfast broadband service (this doesn’t necessarily mean they are getting superfast; it just means they can order a service if they want it).
However, there are also more than 450 homes that are served by BT superfast cabinets that are on an upgrade ‘waiting list’. This means they are connected to a fibre but the capacity of that cabinet to serve more premises needs to be improved. The complexity of these improvements will vary by cabinet, but an upgrade will be required before the residents it serves can get a superfast service. This may be the reason that ISPs are telling residents that superfast is ‘not available’, rather than that it will be available by a specified date.
The biggest problem seems to be those homes served by Cabinet 42, which hasn’t been fibre-enabled. The data suggests there are 134 homes that are connected to this one – some (but not all) of the properties in Arlington Road, Burroughs Close, Hazel Way, Lancaster Road, Juniper Way, Robinswood Close, Roselle Drive, Stearman Road, Sycamore, Walk Yew Tree Road and Walnut Close seem to be the main ones affected. Coopers Edge School is also linked to Cabinet 42.
In an ideal world the housebuilders responsible for the new homes would have been liaising in the early planning stages with BT and Virgin’s New Sites Teams. This might then have ensured that advance broadband capacity was facilitated as the homes were being built. It appears this didn’t happen.
Demand is key to the delivery of a decent broadband service – if there’s lots of it, BT will upgrade its cabinets (as it will ultimately get a fee every month for each connection it facilitates). BT is also required to meet specified service levels – if it doesn’t meet these quality standards it gets its knuckles rapped by the Government.
There appear to be two tactics that can be employed to sort the problem – one for the 450 homes that are currently on BT’s ‘waiting list’; and one for those that are currently linked to Cabinet 42.
If you are one of the 450 properties waiting for superfast broadband from a cabinet that has already been fibre-enabled you (in theory) shouldn’t have to wait for more than one or two months. If it is taking longer than this it suggests that BT/Openreach has been dragging its heels. It ought to be fairly simple for BT to upgrade a fibre-enabled cabinet (it can add in extra hardware, or tack a smaller cabinet on alongside), and it shouldn’t, in theory, take BT long to do this.
It is therefore vital to know how long you have been ‘waiting’. If you have been in limbo for more than two months please email us with your name, address, how long you have been ‘waiting’ and who you have been in contact with. We will then collate these responses and submit a formal complaint to BT’s High Level Complaints Team.
Send your details to this email – firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are linked to Cabinet 42 (the one that hasn’t been fibre-enabled yet) it may be possible to enable it by working with BT’s Community Fibre Partnership Team. The parish council has recently enquired with this Team, asking it to detail what it would cost to upgrade the cabinet and what top-up might be required to make it viable.
Once we know the cost there are a number of options open to us. For example, because the school is linked to cabinet 42 this may automatically trigger a pot of funding towards the cost. And, if the upgrade cost is fairly modest, there may be other grants or sources of finance that we could also explore.