The Broadband Plan - what to expect


BROADBAND/FIBRE UPDATE

See the comment below - it is worth keeping your eyes open for any fibre in your area. Giganet seem quite active. I am getting reports of development around the village.

I now have the latest results of the DCMS survey on the future roll-out of fibre in West Sussex.

The colour grading is described in the 'Fibre Broadband in West Chiltington' post below. Regarding government 'assistance' - i.e. Vouchers, only 'White' will be eligible. Most of west Chiltington is now classified as 'Grey' meaning there will be few if any vouchers available in the village.

Things are moving more quickly in the fibre world now, and companies like Trooli' and 'Giganet' are working in our area. Do check to see if they can provide you right now using existing fibre, and if not, register your interest on their website.

Remember when you look at costs, that if you choose to use VOIP for telephony OR just rely on your mobile, you will be able to ditch your BT provided telephone, thus saving on the line rental. It is worth reading my other bit about that below. If you take off the line rental then fibre broadband becomes very competitive, not to mention the vastly improved speeds.


New government trial

Could this be the answer? From The Rural services Network:

The Financial Times reports that the UK will begin trialling Elon Musk's Starlink technology in its first test of web-linked satellites to help meet the government's ambition of providing ultrafast internet to all homes across the country.

The first Starlink satellites will be deployed to provide connectivity to a few specific isolated sites, including a 12th-century abbey in the North York Moors National Park, and rescue operations in the Lake District and Snowdonia National Park, according to a government announcement on 30/11/22.

The government has opted to use Starlink, a satellite constellation operated by the billionaire entrepreneur's SpaceX company, instead of the British satellite broadband pioneer OneWeb, which it rescued from bankruptcy in 2020 with a controversial $500mn investment.


The latest I have on Telephone Plans

I'm not sure how many of you are aware that your familiar 'old' telephone (known as 'POTS' - Plain Old Telephone System in the communications world) is planned to disappear within 3 years?

It is the 'Grand Plan' of BT and the government that all telephone systems to domestic properties will connect via broadband after the end of 2025. All connections to properties via the existing technology ('POTS') will cease.

The telephone will then connect to a broadband supply via a 'router' with a special adaptation for a voice telephonic system known as VOIP - 'Voice over IP'. This will require electricity to operate. The actual functioning of the system is not going to be significantly different - you will be able to pick up the new 'phone' and dial out and receive incoming calls. The changes to 'traditional' telephone exchanges will take place up to 2025. Some exchanges have already changed over. It is assumed that telephone and broadband service providers will be contacting their customers in good time to help them with the transition and any changes needed. I am trying to find out if the WSCC broadband team have any information, but no luck at the moment. The costs of the new system should not be vastly different to current landline costs (there will still be some sort of 'line rental'), and you should gain several other services on the 'line' which you might have to pay for at the moment, and your number should not need to change. NB THERE IS NO NEED TO PANIC!

This means several things:-

1) Every property that wishes to retain a means of telephone communication will need a broadband connection - this can be either using a 'wired' broadband service or some sort of wireless broadband. BT are developing a 'new' system to use the old broadband supplies we had several years ago ('ADSL') to deliver broadband to premises that do not have currently have it - it is called 'SOTAP' (Single Order Transitional Access Product for anyone interested). It is expected to deliver the necessary broadband to premises using the existing copper/aluminium wires your current telephone ('POTS') uses. PLEASE NOTE the loss of the existing telephone system AND the move to a broadband-based system will be compulsory, but there will be no requirement to have an internet connection if you don't want one. You can have 'just' 'plain' broadband to provide the telephone service.

2) You will lose not only the POTS, but also the 'backup' that provides power in the event of a mains power failure, since BT have for years provided electrical supplies down your phone line to maintain the POTS. Your 'back-up' then will be either a mobile phone, wireless broadband OR a back-up power system in your property that will power the system if the mains fails.

3) By 2030 the existing mobile phone network will have closed down and it is planned that all mobile phone connections will be using 4g, 5g or whatever comes next, so if you don't have a 'smart phone' that does the internet with 4 or 5g you will need one then in order to have a mobile (and broadband) connection after 2030.


Fibre Broadband in West Chiltington - where we are at (see update above)

Since I was involved with WSCC in the roll-out of the 'green cabinets' providing FTTC in the village I have been constantly in touch with the move forward to fibre.

The current situation is that Boris has promised 'gigabit broadband for all' by 2030' - see DCMS

There are various phases of this roll-out, and West Sussex in in Phase 2. We have been told that the funding allocation for West Sussex is 'up to' 128million and the target is 'up to' 68,000 homes. DCMS who are 'in charge' of all this have been completing a number of Open Market Reviews (OMR) to try to establish the commercial plans of all broadband providers to rollout fibre. This was completed last year. I have a copy of the findings, and post codes have been graded in it White', 'Black', and 'Under Review'. This is the official definition of the colour codes:

White - indicates premises with no gigabit network infrastructure and none is likely to be developed within 3 years.

Black - premises with two or more qualifying gigabit infrastructures from different suppliers being available, or will be deployed in the coming 3 years.

Grey - a single qualifying gigabit infrastructure from a single supplier is available, or is to be deployed within the coming 3 years.

Under Review - premises where suppliers have reported planned commercial broadband coverage, but where those plans have been judged through the OMR as potentially being at risk of not being completed.

All of West Chiltington and the surrounding area is either White or 'Under Review' and the tea leaves are saying that many of the 'Under Review' commercial plans are at best risky. I have more about the DCMS process in the post below this one.

DCMS have just (4th March) closed the 'Public Review' phase where an in-depth look at companies' plans is undertaken, and I expect the results around June/July. This will refine the above gradings. When this has been hashed about at DCMS I assume we will begin to see where and how the money is to be spent. It will, of course, come nowhere near giving everyone high-speed. I expect the priority will be to those who have less than 10Mbps and also that the initial go will be those in the less than 30Mbps world. How much of the supposed money is used up there - no idea! I think initial contract placement for those so blessed will not be starting until much later this year and based on current progress is likely to take well into the 2030s to complete.

We also await the news from DCMS of how they plan to proceed with this remaining rump. You will all recall the 'Gigabit Voucher Scheme' (which will close on April 8th). This is designed to give groups of houses that have the energy and organisation the chance to offset much of the cost of installing fibre. We have a few such folk around here. Unfortunately, nearly all the resulting schemes involve Openreach doing the fibre runs, and they have so far significantly failed to complete many of the schemes, so that as of March this year any 12 month validities of any voucher issued for a scheme as yet uncompleted is to run out in 1 month for some. I understand (4th March) that the Treasury are being heavily lobbied by all to extend their funding from 12 months. I don't think any of the local efforts are being completed at present. Whether 'Son of Voucher Scheme' will arrive or not is unknown.

All in all a precarious position. There are, as you will know, alternatives to fibre, such as satellite and wireless broadband to give 'high-speed broadband', but not only are these systems less efficient but also are far more restricted in future speed development, so it is my view that the primary focus should be on fibre.

Since there has been no co-ordination by the Parish Council and nothing from the County, I would ask anyone who has an interest in the progress of the 'plan' to register with me by email, using this as an address. I can then update all on what is happening.

A few roads around are beginning to look at the future for projects post this 'review' by DCMS. It makes sense to co-ordinate such so as not to waste any potential 'cross-fibre'ing' if it is possible.


The Open Market Review for West Sussex for Gigabit broadband

(February 2022) Just published. It is now down to DCMS aided by the local Authority amongst others to look at how they plan to distribute any government money.

For West Chiltington, Nutbourne and a large part of Pulborough, the results are not cheering. As a reminder, the 'Review' is designed to ascertain the level of commercial intent to provide Gigabit broadband to properties.

The Review bascially sub-divides post-codes on this likelihood. The aforementioned areas are classified as 'Gigabit Under Review' which is defined as declared as an area with commercial intent but not thought to be likely to proceed as such. The areas that do not show as having any commercial interest are classified as 'Gigabit White', and would (presumably - my guess!) be high on the list for receiving government subsidy.

The much vaunted 'promise' by Boris and our MP (take that with a pinch of salt?) is a grant of 128million for around 68,000 premises. However, reality suggests there will be far less money!

The comprehensive post-code breakdown spreadsheet lists 41,666 premises as 'White' with 205,985 as 'Gigabit Under Review'. All this is subject to a further review depending on any revised commercial intents, but I do think that our area is very poorly placed in this lottery. Although we may be currently 'considered' by one or more commercial enterprises for the provision of Gigabit broadband, the chances of it happening are not great - by definition. It would appear logical, although I have no indication from WSCC, that the priority would be the 'White' post-codes (which could well absorb ALL the funding should it slip from the 68,000 'promised'). This would mean that once again we will slide gracefully into the 'not-haves'.

A final titbit for you is that 'Gigabit broadband' is not specifically tied to fibre, but can be delivered wirelessly.

I will, of course, post anything meaningful I can discover!


Your New Year's resolution?

Two things we need to badger our MP with (as long as he lasts.....)

1. The plan is to phase out landline telephones and replace them with VOIP internet systems by the end of 2025. That's only 3 years away....... STOP PRESS 29th April - BT ANNOUNCE AN UNSPECIFIED DELAY IN THIS.

The next part of the plan is to phase out the existing '2g' mobile network (the one you makes calls on) AND the 3g network (the one you use for the slower data) by 2028. ALL voice calls will then route via 4g/5g/?6g?/?7g?. This means that anyone who wants to make a phone call will need a broadband connection AND either a 4g(+) capable mobile OR a VOIP capable handset. Hours of fun for granny and grandad as they wrestle with the new technology.

All very tech and modern BUT think about those who do not have (or want) broadband - who will pay for their rentals? Now think about power failures. Ask the people of the north of the UK about that?

No power = no router = no phone. No 999 calls. OK says BT, you can use your mobile! What about the elderly, those who do not have mobiles, and those who cannot get a reliable signal anyway in rural areas? What about burglar and medical alarm systems that rely on the landline? How do you charge the mobile up?

So, you have to buy a UPS (Uninterruptable Power Supply). It runs off a battery which needs to be kept charged. Most of them run for about 2 hours max powering the router and your phone. After that? Speak to the north of the UK about that too - seven days plus. The likelihood of major storms and subsequent power failures increases every year with climate change. Ask the people of the north of the UK about that?

Next problem - even if you manage to get power to your router and phone, the masts that supply internet and mobile phone signals require mains power. Yes, some (not all) have a back-up system. After about 2 hours (if you are lucky) that dies too. No internet = no phone.

The 'old' landline system also requires power but will work with a grid power failure as the exchanges have their own back-ups. We will lose that.

Serious questions need to be asked about this government approved steamroller.

2. The next item is to ask WSCC and Mr Griffith exactly what they are doing to improve the dreadful state of fibre and high speed broadband in the Arundel constituency, which is by far the worst in West Sussex.

A New Year's resolution - ask questions!


We are in a big broadband ditch!

The national figure for access to fibre broadband is now around 29% of properties, and the figure for West Sussex as a whole is the same. HOWEVER, our constituency, Arundel and South Downs,, is a paltry 11.9% and West Chiltington, as many of you know, is far, far worse! I have asked our MP who claims to have been a staunch supporter of better broadband, and WSCC, why this is.

If anyone is bothered, I would suggest a contact with either/both to ask what they will be doing about it?

The DCMS OMR report on our area (Sussex,'Lot1' in 'Project Gigabit' - see "The much-vaunted Boris 'promise' " below) is expected to be published Late January/early February.
(OMR = Open Market review which will determine how much commercial fibre can be expected and how much will need to be government funded. Postcodes/areas will be graded white/grey/black which determines the need for any intervention. White should get it, but we need to wait for the results.)


October 2021

No increase in funding in the Autumn statement despite 'assurances' that the infrastructure would be improved - still at the reduced figure of 1.2 Billion.

The Rural Services Network reports warnings of rural broadband deprivation in a report from County Councils Network (CCN) with a growing divide in gigabit-capable broadband coverage between urban cities and the "rural shires" The report


The much-vaunted Boris 'promise' of fibre broadband for all has been refined. The latest news is contained in DCMS news. Looking down the table we see that West Sussex is in 'Phase 2' of the programme, with actual 'results' in the County expected to start around April 2023, for 67,800 non-commercial premises. NB I think the actual figure for West Sussex is over 330,000 domestic properties.

In the meantime the 'Gigabit Voucher Scheme' continues and you can enter your PostCode there to see if you are 'eligible' for a voucher (Most of the village is).


Fibre comes to only a few in West Chiltington

It looks as if the Government voucher scheme will work for some in Southlands Lane and East Street. Thanks to the valiant efforts of one resident, Fibre is being installed to 40 properties. There, properties will be the first to benefit from the 'Community Voucher Scheme' which is 'topped up' by WSCC.

The cost per property will be very low. It is worth reminding all in the village that this sort of scheme is, in my opinion, going to be the only way anyone here will get the higher speeds as I cannot see any commercial company, including BT/Openreach, running fibre around the village (but see the above). The unexplained Fibre run Openreach installed last year down Broadford Bridge Road will, I think, be the only fibre many of us will see. It is worth pointing out that while those in the village fortunate enough to have FTTC may well be 'content' with their current speeds, it will not be long before we are left well behind in broadband speeds. We are already poorly placed in the West Sussex league table and it will get worse - see Bottom of the league!.

The only other scheme I am aware of is for part of Harbolets Road which has for ever had dreadful speeds, like Southlands and East Street. This scheme is now progressing.

I understand that a massive application for Fibre Broadband has been made in Storrington.

West Chiltington already has the slowest broadband in West Sussex according to a government survey. A recent nationwide survey says that 4 out of 10 houses have a fibre or other high-speed option. Not here! Our broadband may be 'adequate' for many people at the moment but it certainly will NOT be in a few years time, and it takes 'a few years' to get any sort of improvement. If people do not start thinking ahead we wil most definitely be left in the slow lane. If anyone needs help in what needs to be done, please Contact me.


Horsham gets FTTP boost

'FW Networks', a small fibre supplier, has rolled out fibre to a significant portion of Horsham and plans to expand further.


The state of rural broadband

Our MP has finally responded to the dreadful state of broadband in his constituency as the next item shows, but not actually achieved much, and our PC appear to have done very little to respond apart for a small entry on their website linking to the government's voucher scheme. Things are so bad that not only is Griffith's CONSTITUENCY the worst in the South East, but WEST CHILTINGTON is the worst in his CONSTITUENCY! See the 'Bottom of the league' item below. Some achievement!

This is the same MP that teamed up with the remarkably successful Dido Harding in 2016 to lead the 'Fix Britain's Internet' campaign for faster, more reliable broadband. In view of Harding's 'success' in running the Corona Test and Trace...............

OFCOM have now started a review into the dreadful state of rural broadband which lags well behind the urban. As some of our parishioners have found out, the voucher scheme is not much good! At present, it appears that, once again (remember the roll-out of the BDUK scheme?), BT seem to have the monopoly on providing connections to fibre and are quoting horrendous prices to connect some properties - prices that are just not acceptable in some cases.

I am still awaiting a response from West Sussex County Council's broadband department, but the indications are that matters are now well and truly out of their hands.

Again, if you need a better speed, lobby both the PC AND your MP.

LATEST NEWS JANUARY 2021 The latest report by the Public Accounts Committee thinks that the errors by Boris & Co are such that it is unlikley rural areas will get the much-promised 'fibre' broadband. See The Guardian article. I have emailed our 'Broadband Campaigning' MP for comment.

REPLY - "That's your lot, folks"

"Thank you for contacting me regarding the House of Commons Library's recent publication of Constituency data on broadband coverage and speeds. Whilst I am pleased that 86.1% of West Chiltington residents are already receiving broadband speeds of over 10 Mbps, my focus remains on the minority who are not yet able to receive decent broadband.

I do understand just how important, especially in difficult times such as the present, fast and reliable broadband is. I have been pleased that many of my constituents have been able to access a generous 4,000 per home grant of taxpayers money to improve their broadband connection but even this, in some areas due to the way that the telecoms network is laid out, has not proven enough (4000 would appear to actually be 1500?). I shall keep pressing the Government to do more."


Bottom of the league!

The latest survey by parliament shows our constituency AND our village dragging well behind the rest of the county. Two images of the results:



.

Our MP, Andrew Griffith, has said he is really 'on board' for trying to improve this. On 4th August 2020 I emailed him with these pictures taken from his own government's survey and asked what he is doing about it. I also copied the images to WSCC Broadband to see if they had any comment. I will publish any responses when I get them. Nothing yet, not even an acknowledgement. The Parish Council do not appear to have even noticed!


The 'Broadband USO' - that's 'Universal Service Obligation'!!

From March 20th 2020, all those who currently receive less than 10Mbps download and 1Mbps upload speeds from 'an affordable connection' will have the right to REQUEST a better service. NOTE the capital letters there - you are not 'guaranteed' one and it could take up to 12 months to sort and it must cost less than 3400 for your property. There is more information at ISP Review which will link you to the OFCOM Q&A page.

A group of residents around Harbolets Road who have had appalling broadband for a long time have already taken Openreach and BT to task for their predicament.

The government have now expanded the voucher scheme to include those on less than 100Mbps instead of the previous 30Mbps - that means everyone on FTTC!


Fibre on poles has been run south from the junction along Broadford Bridge Road. The fibre run appears to finish with the last telegraph pole about 1/2 mile north of the Queen's Head. I have myself now observed the 'Caution Overhead Fibre' or 'Caution Fibre Above' yellow plates on the poles on this road, which is the clue. There is also a 'mysterious' short run of fibre on poles eastwards from the Harbolets/Broadford Bridge junction to a few properties. and fibre is slowly making its way up Southlands Road to ease the dreadful broadband speeds at the Village Nursery and in East Street. Here are three of the things you need to watch out for in case they sprout from 'every pole' in West Chiltington:

What does this mean for you if you are seeking better broadband?

You need to keep checking with WSCC about what they are doing. However, in view of the 'promise' by Boris, I recommend that if you are interested in getting a fibre feed to your property you do the following asap:

If you have a group of properties that are keen to improve their broadband speeds go for the 'Community Fibre' option as above - register your 'interest' at Fibre Checker. You will see there that there are currently no 'obvious' plans to provide FTTP to most of West Chiltington, but do not give up!! ....OR

There are voucher schemes just coming into place for residential grants for fibre to add to the existing vouchers for business connections. Apply for up to 3500 towards the cost of connection by visiting WSCC Broadband. WSCC are now involved in the process of launching the residential scheme, and you can find more information at Gigabit and will offer help and advice on the Voucher scheme. Enter the postcodes of the properties interested in the scheme to confirm eligibility. An eligible postcode will display the message 'Some addresses in the postcode you have entered may be eligible for a rural gigabit voucher as part of a group scheme'. The suppliers who are able to provide a service in the area will then be listed and the community group should approach a supplier for a quotation mentioning that they would like to take advantage of the voucher scheme. This is what the scheme is about:

The Rural Gigabit Connectivity Vouchers are specifically aimed at rural areas (as defined by DEFRA) where current broadband speeds are less than 100mbps. Rural Gigabit vouchers can be used by groups of rural properties to contribute to the installation cost of a gigabit capable connection. The groups of properties may be formed from a business/multiple businesses and a number of residential properties or from a group of residential properties. This voucher scheme is aimed at aggregating demand for services in a particular area so a single business or a single resident would not be able eligible for the scheme. The voucher would be worth up to 1500.

Encouragingly, entering the Village Nurseries into the page shows several available suppliers and indicates that a voucher may be available.

What this means for the rest of the village, however, is uncertain at present, except, of course, you will all have seen Boris's magic announcement of 'Fibre for every home' by 2025!? The latest information I have is that there are major obstacles in the way and I know most of the communications industry has written to Boris to point out the things that will need doing to achieve this, including opening access to all property to allow digging of fibre, removing the need for the existing 'wayleave' process, and major changes to the way fibre is taxed.


Extra Cabinets for the exchange

Sadly no sign of any respite for Harbolets, but a new cabinet has 'gone live' up the Coolham Road which should enable a service to reach Goose Green.


Satellite versus other schemes

I have covered satellite broadband before, but will repeat:
There are two primary issues with the system, apart from cost.
Firstly 'latency'. A normal request from your computer for something on the internet - eg a webpage - travels along the wires to a broadband 'hub', be it Brighton, London, Bracknell, whereever. The response is then accessed and the result returned to your computer along the same wires. Satellite is different - the request goes from your computer via the dish some 22,000 miles up to the satellite, which then sends a request back to earth for the information. The information is returned to the satellite and then down to you. Quite a distance. This means there is a significant delay in your receiving what you requested. The delay is sufficient to render internet telephony ('VOIP') very poor and any 'games' which involve fast reaction do not work, so any 'gaming' kids will be less than impressed.. Once a steady download link is established, of course, the delay becomes effectively irrelevant eg in watching a film or listening to music.

The second problem is 'bandwidth'. While this is improving every year, it is still possible for demand at the satellite to swamp the available system, and I have been told that sometimes a '20Mb satellite broadband' can slow to 1-2Mb at busy times. The loading on the satellite system can only worsen if 300,000 new users come on line.

The monthly cost can be expensive if you aim to use a lot of broadband, ie if you aim to watch movies etc. Once you exceed the smallish 'allowance', the costs rapidly escalate.

A wireless system still offers a better option, providing you can receive the signal. The delay I mentioned above is minimal on a wireless system.

If any of you are not sure how much 'bandwidth' you would need, an example from my 'Christmas' - two teenage grandchildren visited from 'up north' and got a Playstation for Christmas. Christmas day was spent 'setting it up' which meant a significant amount of downloads, and all 3 grandchildren, plus parents, ran IPads and mobiles on my system. My usage went up from around 800MB per day to almost 10 GB per day! The 'standard' satellite package appears to be about 10GB per MONTH for around 25 pm as far as I can see. Be warned!

Furthermore, as part of the UK government's response to the EU broadband survey I told you all about, OfCom have published this:
"Ofcom have found that the average household data usage has risen to 82 GB per month, with the figures for those with fibre-to-the cabinet (FTTC) or fibre-to-the premises (FTTP) connections being considerably higher (112GB). This compares with data consumption or 23 GB per month in 2012."

Think carefully before you embark on a low bandwidth contract!


I have 'archived' all the previous entries on West Chiltington broadband, including information on the cabinets and how to check your speeds (also see below). If you wish to re-visit this, see Archive.

Now that we have been 'served' by the BDUK scheme, MOST of the village has access to reasonable, if not really 'superfast' in the true meaning of the term. BDUK are re-funding County Councils now to allow the next stage of the project to proceed which is to try to take FTTC (at 24Mbps+) to 95% of the UK by 2017 in 'Phase 2' and to 'beyond 95%' in 'Phase 3'. all somewhat vague, and as usual West Chiltington will inevitably find itself somewhere in the missing %. With our 'Phase 1 complete, we have significant areas which are too far from the green cabinets to really benefit from the faster broadband, and of course for businesses that need a high upload speed for data etc the existing provision is not adequate. One of those businesses that is really poorly served by the scheme is the Village Nurseries, run by Peter Manfield. Peter has been a staunch advocate and supporter of the projects for a long time, and from his exchanges with WSCC it would appear that he and the others in similar circumstances may well be 'offered' vouchers to find some improvement and that the County may well be falling back on 'Satellite' as the solution which many elsewhere have found inadequate.



Cabinet map

You can check your projected speeds here - the BT 'availability checker'. NB It now only works for BT phone numbers.

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