Following the broadband money

Superslow broadband comes to Surrey

with 6 comments

BT has told Ewhurst that it won’t fulfil its initial promises on its fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) roll-out to the Surrey village.

According to the Ewhurst website, “Openreach (BT’s infrastructure company) appear to have finally accepted that the FTTC works are not on target. Just 10 days before the original RFS (ready for service) date they have rolled back the ‘planned’ date for ‘WBC FTTC’ to 30th June 2012, for all Cranleigh exchange (which serves Ewhurst) lines we have checked. However, we understand that some cabinets may still go live before then, whilst others may be delayed much longer, or not upgraded at all.”

Ewhurst was denied a development grant of £180,000 to upgrade its broadband because BT was going to do it. Ewhurst had planned to spend its grant money with Vtesse Networks following an open tender to which BT offered a non-compliant response.

As Ewhurst started meeting with the Surrey County Council to finalise the Vtesse contract, BT approached the council, asked it to sign non-disclosure agreements, and presumably revealed its plans to roll out fibre to the cabinet in the area.

Under EU state aid rules, public bodies should avoid spending taxpayers’ money if they would duplicate what the private sector is about to do.

The council then reneged on its promise of the money to Ewhurst.

Walter Willcox, who led Ewhurst’s bid for the development grant,notes that had the Vtesse contract been allowed to go ahead, Ewhurst villagers would by now have been enjoying high speed broadband for a year, and some would have had fibre to the home connections.

Willcox says the one Ewhurst cabinet that Openreach has upgraded has only FTTC capacity to serve 100 homes rather than the 500 that are connected to the cabinet.

“One has to question the motives of the BT Group who still appear to be a very long way from having their inferior service available even for just one cabinet,” he said in a comment on the Ewhurst site.

Meanwhile, details have emerged where BT refused to replace a length of aluminium cable that prevented a customer from getting more than 15Mpbs from an Infinity cabinet that BT promises will soon deliver “up to 80Mbps”.

The story develops in a series of postings on the PlusNet community blog. At one point the customer says, “BT have stated that they are not willing to replace the aluminium cable with copper due to the costs associated with digging up the directly buried inferior cable. If only they had run the cable in a duct…

“BT have apparently quoted long lead times and a cost of several thousand pounds because they would need to negotiate permission to dig up other residents’ front gardens. This may not be too difficult as everyone on the estate is aware of the service strip under which all utility cables are buried…

“If BT are truly treating the FTTC trial as a method of developing their 21CN customer service methodology, then problems like this are good learning opportunities and should not be filed away as ‘too difficult’.”

Although the exchange between the customer and PlusNet (a BT subsidiary) is from November 2010, it is indicative of the problems customers have in getting BT to deliver the service it promises.

The fact that Ewhurst has lots of aluminium cable and some of its ducts are in poor condition may have something to do with Openreach’s revised timetable. Or not.

Written by Br0kenTeleph0n3

2012/03/21 at 22:29

Posted in Broadband, Finance, Internet, News

Tagged with , , , , ,

6 Responses

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  1. Will anyone *ever* listen and will we ever learn? Ewhurst is one of far too many #fails around the country that involve BT, public funding from the tax payers’ purse, and councils. There are more instances of scandalous fiscal waste yet to come that may put Cornwall, Lancashire, Cumbria’s Project Access, etc etc and individual towns, village and community waste of EU, BDUK, RDPE etc monies when BT is involved into the shade. There will be more pots which will be forced to follow because the results of a 2mbps USC, FTTC bias, BET etc (all completely inappropriate in 2012 and beyond) are as inevitable as the 2002 onwards debacle with ADSL which has left Broadband Britain a laughing stock for many globally. Basically, we are seeing a squandering of public and private money FOR YEARS to come because of poor central government policy and leadership for the regions, BT’s heinous landgrab tactics, and the naïveté of councils who should not have ever been tasked to handle telecoms procurement – a complex subject far distant from even the most basic understanding of many officers. Thousands of communities house telecoms experts; yet ALL are being ignored. Even those with zero expertise in telecoms can see the lunacy of allowing yet again the invention and deployment of BT’s square wheels. Seemingly in a bid to throw good money after bad and allow the (most likely illegal) furtherance of a monopoly that does not and cannot hold the public interest at heart because of shareholders.  If we continue to dismiss the solid, logical, sensible advice and experience of the likes of BTs very own ex CTO Professor Cochrane (as Bill Murphy, current Bigmouth or some such job title of OpenRetch, did on Twitter) and ignore those with a vested interest eg citizens, households, businesses, experts etc, as those in decision making positions for BDUK etc spend continually seem to do, then I fear judicial review can not be long in coming for this whole, sorry, possibly fraudulent, Broadband Britain affair.


    2012/03/22 at 00:47

  2. So it’s delayed and why the obsession on capacity, what’s the likely take up of FTTC?

    The aluminium issue quotes is in Cheshire, but why should that affect cabinet installation?


    2012/03/22 at 08:57

    • Not addressing the last mile is like buying a Ferrari and driving it on a cattle track – bit of a waste unless you upgrade the track.

      Ian Grant

      2012/03/22 at 11:28

  3. Play it again, Sam…

    Mel Bryan

    2012/03/22 at 15:38

  4. Have you flagged this to thinkbroadband and TheRegister?

    Alan Brown

    2012/05/08 at 09:22

  5. Somerset

    2012/05/11 at 06:50

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