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A Plea from a Staffordshire Broadband Enthusiast

Hello Tref,

My name is Scott Wakefield. I am a broadband enthusiast and I live in Brocton, Stafford. I have recently come along your website to understand that you have connections with BT, and potentially other companies. Brocton is somewhat a rural area and as you would expect, BT do not care for our community. After ruthless complaining and many letters, emails and phone calls, neither BT, Virgin Media, Stafford Borough Council, Staffordshire County Council, the ISPA or Ofcom will do anything about it.

My area receives on average between 0.05Mbps – 0.17Kbps (50Kbps – 170Kbps) which is staggeringly slow. When I called up Virgin Media (whom is my current ISP as I switched from BT since a BT engineer thought I was being capped), I was guaranteed that I would receive “the slowest would be of 0.5 and the maximum would be 2.4Mbps” and this conversation of which I recorded and I asked my solicitor whether this would be of any value and I was told that it did.

The the reason I have contacted you is to ask whether you would be able to help me out to try to receive faster broadband speeds by using your contacts with BT to try to give Brocton some kind of boost to help me and the community receive faster broadband. Whether this be to install ADSL2+,FTTC, FTTP or even make my area an area to trial new types of broadband.

I have signed up to become a BT trialist ( , although I am yet to receive a reply. I have also asked Virgin Media to add me to their list of trialist although I have not received any emails or letters relating to that matter.

I will understand if you are unable to do anything for me, as I am used to it when this is regarding broadband, but I thank you for reading this email.

Thank You,

Scott Wakefield

This is a real letter and one that is becoming all too regular an occurrence in my mailbox, on the subject of rural broadband. I answered:

I’m afraid Scott realistically the only thing you can do is see whether there is an appetite locally to put together a project yourself. I can put you in touch with people who have started to make a business out of lighting fibre in rural spots.

You might also see whether your local council is putting together a bid for funding under the BDUK initiative which is doling out £530m in cash for such uses.  The government is trying to get everyone up to 2megs by 2015 using BDUK.

Also BT is at some stage planning on replacing all its non ADSL2+ with ADSL2+ kit because the old kit is becoming obsolete. However it sounds to me like this wouldn’t do much for you as you must be on the end of a very long line

I really do feel for your predicament.

All the best


In the subsequent email trail Scott said that the Staffordshire County Council have in fact made a bid for the money, and they have been given some of it (I am unsure how much). I have been told that they aim to give people in Staffordshire broadband speeds of at least 2Mbps, although because they set out a survey which relies on data from speed tester which does not give out accurate data (i.e. it says I receive over 2Mbps when I actually receive around 0.15Mbps), it means that I do not believe that they will invest in my area because of the false data.

I don’t need to comment further. Scott needs help. Who is going to step up to the plate?

PS My thanks to Scott Wakefield for allowing me to publish this post.

Trefor Davies

By Trefor Davies

Liver of life, father of four, CTO of, writer, poet,

20 replies on “A Plea from a Staffordshire Broadband Enthusiast”

Putting the phone number of Brocton Post Office, 01785 660402, into SamKnows comes up with the exchange being Milford. And:

MILFORD WMMFD FTTC 2012 Staffordshire

Obviously dependent on particular cabinets being enabled and distance from the cabinet.

Obviously the long term plan is to get fibre etc. etc. – but for most of us this is still a long way off and not easy on a DIY basis – so I’ll let others offer their advice on this as it’s out of my league.

BUT what you can do is ensure that you are making the most of your current line!

There are still many many people that don’t understand how internal wiring effects things, how the unneeded ring-wire can ruin an already poor connection. Why there’s a test socket and why your internet connection doesn’t immediately run quicker when you use it due to all of BT’s Profiles and Targets! How router choice can make a difference and why you shouldn’t switch your router off and on too many times in a short time period.

It’s no wonder people have ADSL problems as it’s like a game of “Snakes & Ladders” when you’re on a poor line!

So my advice would be to ensure you’ve really optimised your line just in case you can improve things in the short term to make things more bearable 🙂

Start with a Google of something like Understanding and Improving ADSL for lots of advice

I don’t know if @Tref is able to link to any resources on the Timico website that may also help you get the most out of your line?

Yes Somerset, I did know about the FTTC roll out in Milford, although BT stated that we would get FTTC in the “future exchanges” section and although it states we will get it in 2012, I have spoke to numerous people at BT and they claim that we have not yet been added to their list of exchanges to receive fibre optic broadband; so in reality it is likely that we will not receive FTTC in 2012, and in fact either in a later date or never. Also, If you thoroughly read my email to Tref, you will see that I said “try to give Brocton some kind of boost” in which I intended to mean to speed the process up of installing fibre optic broadband to my area. Finally, If we even did receive FTTC, then it is quite likely that would not receive much faster broadband speeds as my cabinet is so far away that it will affect the broadband speed, whereas usually it does not as the distance is so short. Also, may I ask how you found the link? Thanks.

Milford is on the Openreach list but maybe the local BT people don’t have it on their list of things to do yet?

Google is your friend for links!

How far are you from your cabinet? Postcodes would help.

Hi Scott,
the solution as Guy says is to jfdi yourselves, all the funding will go to BT who will only offer you BET or satellite stop gap solutions. A really quick fix is to test a Wibe (we have had great results in very rural locations) or to get enough people together to build their own network like we are doing. It is up to each area to help itself, we wish you luck. I don’t see why anyone should pay for a landline connection that doesn’t work or is so slow as to be unusable. The Wibe on an unlimited tariff only costs £15 a month, and we have had 4meg tests, with well over a meg upload, which you can’t get via BT or Virgin in the sticks. The results of our tests are here: with odd landline ones added by others. All the ones on 3 are in really remote places. Hope this helps
I am not on commission! Fibre is my goal, but the wibe does give a much better service than rural landlines.

This is all a bit confusing!

I’ve just tried to follow the link above that ‘Somerset’ found for ‘trba’ – The Rural Broadband Association. The link returns a 404 this morning.

But as I live down a rural single track lane and need a bit of help I thought I would look at ‘The Rural Broadband Association’ in case it could help me. But it just looks like a ‘Brocton’ focused site registered by the same family name as Scott?!

Samknows shows this as a Market 3 exchange so has more options than some of us stuck on 20CN with no upgrade route published at all…

@HmmmUK, Apologies for the 404 error, it is because the link is no longer valid. I must also apologize for the TRBA website not meeting your needs. It was only set up recently and I am having to find the time to update it to help others. I hope you understand?
Thank you.

@Guy Jarvis, thank you for the link, I am likely to decide to become a “Broadband Poineer”

@cyberdoyle, Also, thank you for the information and I’m glad you and your community are on track to faster broadband!

@Scott – no problem. You should put a proper 404 page or a redirect in place! 🙂

“The Rural Broadband Association” – sounds rather grand; so it might be rather misleading… 🙁

Perhaps you should have gone with a ‘Fibre for wherever’ type name?

Virgin are a notoriously oversold provider on ADSL. What is Scott’s downstream attenuation. The guesstimator’s put the Post Office at 2M on MaxDSL and they also have ADSL2 available from Talk Talk LLU. It’s only 2 miles from the exchange to the village by road.

I don’t get this “FTTC won’t be any better” hypothesis, if the cabinet is only 1km closer than the exchange it can only be faster. If it’s in the village then most of the loop will be removed by the FTTC.

My first post was an attempt to help improve Scott’s current situation but I think it fell on deaf ears.

When I looked at his exchange (my second post) things don’t look so grim to me?!

Hopefully the “The Rural Broadband Association” will be able to assist…

A little OT, but something I would like to see is a comparison between the east and west midlands regarding broadband. I get the impression that in the East Mids, BT are more inclined to put fibre into some of the smaller exchanges (circa 5K subscribers) than they are in the West Mids.

My own guess is that the Birmingham conurbation is sucking up a very large amount of the available investment funds, a situation which doesn’t apply in the East Mids, which, despite having Nottingham, Leicester , Derby and even Newark, as population centres, has a generally more dispersed population.

Also, some of the district councils in the East Mids seem to have been more adept at pressurising BT than have their equivalents over the border; Staffordshire County Council having woken up very late in the day to the potential of broadband for a county that has a large rural population.

I run a small wireless ISP here in Basingstoke – we take backhaul from FTTC and redistribute to areas that BT have not FTTC enabled. I think a lot more of this will be needed as BT are destroying the hosing market in the not-FTTC areas. People here are losing property sales where FTTC is not available in areas of long copper runs.

Take a look at – I’m happy to give pointers to people wanting to set up similar projects. Big issue in rural areas is the crazy cost of backhaul if FTTC is not available. @Trefor – any suggestions here as an ISP?
Tim Robinson

In my experience Tim the FTTC backhaul bandwidth is quite a bit more expensive than say an Ethernet connection. At least for the ISP. Unfortunately in rural areas the up front cost of installing the Ethernet fibre is vastly more than the connection charge for FTTC.

yes, the issue is for most ‘rural’ exchanges (i.e. even on the outskirts of say Basingstoke) without 21CN POPs a fibre line is well over £1500 per month for a 100 mbit tail with transit, whoever I get a quote from. The sums just don’t add up 🙁 and it smacks of BT holding the monopoly.

a pair of bonded FTTC backhaul is also a crazy price for usage at most proper ISP rates (i.e. anything other than BT REtail!), – but less so than a leased line until I get to more than say 50 users. Happy to discuss options or ideas if you are up for it…


Hi Guys.
I also live in Brocton and have been trying to get together with Scott since we would appear to have similar objectives. Although I have shared my details with him he has not yet done the same!
I have lived in Brocton since before the start of broadband and was one of the first with an account. My issue tends to be more with the sensitivity of the connection. Due to the number of faults detected on the line I have to repeatedly get my profile reset. Sometimes it runs so slowly that (even at 3.00am) that it is unuseable whereas on other occasions it actually meets my reasonable requirements (iplayerHD stream) although of course I should like to be able to stream HD 1080 video content which is not currently possible. As Scott stated Staffordshire County Council have a sizeable pot of money and they are currently gathering data thru a questionnaire in order to prioritise spend. End date Dec31. I’ve made my interest known to them. I’m a professional engineer although not specialising in networks. Scott is requesting that speeds be determined via Thinkbroadband 100Mb download vs the plethora of SpeedTesters (BT,SpeedNet, uSwitch, Thinkbroadband etc which are more familiar to other customers). The 100Mb download process gives poorer results. The speed testers give consistent results (subject to time of day etc and offer graphing of results etc). Could somebody explain what’s going on please. As somebody stated Milford exchange is only 1.5Km distant. Open Reach are always working on the cabling run but are reserved in discussing what they are up to. Scott states only one cabinet. What defines a cabinet (as in FTTC) please since I’m aware of more “green connection boxes” than that in the village.

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