broadband Business

Planning issues holding up really important FTTC connection.

Fibre broadband planning issues hold up my install

I realise that most of you aren’t the least bit interested in my own ambitions to get fibre broadband. From the number of comments I get on the subject most people are more concerned with when they will get it themselves. Fair enough. Thought I’d share my own fibre broadband planning story.

I was due to be connected by the end of March 2012. Then it slipped to end of June.  The end of June is this coming Saturday. My cabinet, which is only a hundred metres or so from my house, looks decidedly lonely. It wants a friend.

I am often asked if I can find out what is happening with someone’s particular cab. It’s doable but not worth the effort in most cases. Openreach would get so many enquiries they would never get any work done.

In my case I have made an exception (only because someone offered to do the work for me) and asked what is happening. Will I wake up later this week to the sound of pneumatic drills and the sigh of white Openreach vans hugging the kerb near my house? Only in my dreams, and therefore by definition before I wake up:).

It looks like my cab is being held up in the planning permission process. Sigh. If I get any more info I’ll let you know because whether you are interested or not I will want to get it off my chest.

Note added at some point in the future. Check out the progress with this update. It’s now been in for a couple of years and has been a rocky ride though I wouldn’t be without. It has revolutionised internet usage in our house.

So long and thanks for all the fibre broadband.

Ciao amigos…

Trefor Davies

By Trefor Davies

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

17 replies on “Planning issues holding up really important FTTC connection.”

You live in a conservation area then?
Or is it the result of road works permission, which means clearance for non-emergency work?

Normally Openreach has code-powers so does not need permission.

Most councils have a roadworks application tracker, so maybe that can give you some information.

My local (Derbyshire) cabinet slipped a full year from the original install target and was finally completed March 2012. I had a very interesting chat with the fibre engineers who told me the routes being taken and that “my” cabinet would bypass the local exchange and go directly to a district hub saving a hop – all good news. I then had to wait another 6 weeks before Openreach ticked the box to allow orders to be placed. I ordered on 14th May, and finally (after 2 failed appointments) I got my install last Thursday. The difference is so far nothing short of amazing. I’ve gone from an unstable ADSL profile of 4M/440k to getting as much as 74Mb/s down and 15Mb/s up, with ping times down from 40-50 m/s to sub 10 m/s.

I think most of the rollout delay is down to project planning, logistics and resources; notably the disastrous decision in 2010 to shed far too many experienced BT engineers. Openreach is only just getting back up to strength again having recruited some really good ex-military guys, but they’re still running to stand still. My installation was by a top-notch new recruit (former SAS) who’d been sent 100 miles from Liverpool. He did a superb job, quickly and tidily, so credit where credit is due. There are some horror stories going round of some inconsistent outcomes and installation practices, but in my case the end result was definitely worth the wait and all the hassle.

The engineer shortage and the loss of the experienced ones was a big blow.

Not sure how accurate the paper data is either, and enough anecdotal comments about checker says cab 6, but reality line is cab 8 appear.

FTTC does get slated, but it is vastly better for the majority that ADSL, so one can see BT’s reasoning for majority of FTTC. Interesting to see lots of presentations boasting high fibre coverage elsewhere, but they talk of FTTx, as in B,N,C,P all in the same collective.

Actually Andrew you might well be right and it might be down to Openreach planning rather than Local Authority planning permission. They did say they would come back with more info so in the interest of sloth I’ll wait for that before looking for an “application tracker”.

Our exchange (EAHWD) was originally targeted Sept 11. They started rodding the ducts in June last year and then laid the fibre in the road. The FTTC cabinets started to go in at the beginning of September and the exchange finally went live in December. The installation of our cabinet was aborted twice due to other electrical underground services being too close to the cabinet. Each time this had to go back to the planners causing a 2-3 month delay. I was also concerned they may just give up and not come back and found the lack of information very frustrating as all I could do was wait! The cabinet finally went in in March this year and went live at the end of May – I was the first install in the cab and went from 1Mb to 45Mb so I’m happy.

I found the best sources of information to be the town councils planning website and keeping an eye out for planned BT roadworks, followed by UK Power Networks. You can register to be alerted of new roadworks.

OR announced another 98 exchanges today and I understand some of the planned exchanges/cabinets have slipped again.

Sorry to say Tref but it’s slipped again “Planned – 30-09-2012”
My Father is in the same boat (Thorpe on the hill) and has had the same dates set and missed.

He spoke with a local openreach engineer who said that his Cab has been upgraded already – So I’m a little unsure why BT keep postponing the dates, my only thought would be some kind of capacity planning out of the exchange..

There are many factors that affect this. There are still local planning requirements.

To bring a cabinet live also needs power, capacity, components and human capital, also other major network issues can have a bearing, such as floods or other emergencies.

From a broadband point of view exchanges really don’t play a strong part in the build. The exchange is only

Openreach has passed 10M homes. that means those who want FTTC in those 10 million homes can have it now.

Openreach has done this is record time, in-fact the roll out in the UK might well be the fastest ever and the team are very proud of this and are driving to connect as many cabinets as quickly as possible. BT have made big commitments to government and to the city to deliver the 2/3’s cover as quickly as possible.

Tref, you might need to make sure you’re using the right tool. Out of curiosity I put my BT Infinity line number and post code into Timico’s Fibre Broadband availability tracker, and got “FTTC unavailable” despite it having been installed last week. In fact it seems I can’t order Timico Fibre anywhere on the 01773 exchange. Is the Timico FTTC solution and checker restricted to a limited geographical area ?

Interested to know how your approach was done to determine when and if your cabinet was due to be upgraded. My own Exchange, Pevensey (East Sussex), was FTTC enabled over a month ago. Many of the old green cabinets now have young friends next to them apart from the one serving my line. I’m hoping it is just a matter of wait and see rather than OR having no plans to ever upgrade the cabinet, but of course I have no idea as OR doesn’t publish this info, nor does the cabinet appear on the leaked OR spreadsheet from last December.

I haven’t heard back from OR yet re the specifics Paul. The approach was offered to me by a regional Director of BT who I know. I doubt that it is possible to get the info for most cabs. Very frustrating for those yet to be switched on I know. It will should come.

Thanks Tref. I’ve managed to engage with my local county councillor who is also served by the same exchange and appears to be on a direct exchange connection so is in the same boat but for a different reason. Initially trying to determine if OR have any plans for the cabinet, if not then happy to start a campaign to make people aware. Whether it will have any impact who know’s but the other avenue would be to lobby my council which has been awarded money from Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) and has the stated intention of :

“We hope to provide superfast broadband, with speeds of 100mbps, to everyone in East Sussex by 2017.”

Getting the residents association to promote it might well have made a difference Umar – especially when they realised what a posh area it was 🙂

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