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Super-fast broadband is now available!

We’re pleased to announce the new cabinet is now live and accepting orders.

superfast accepting

 

Many thanks to all who provided vouchers or helped with the campaign in any way.

new cab

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Fast Broadband is Coming!

We’re pleased to announce that we were able to get enough vouchers to fully cover the cost of upgrading our cabinet! The contract with BT has been signed and we expect work to be completed by the end of the next year (2017).

Many thanks to everyone who pledged their voucher or helped with the campaign in anyway!

You can track the progress of our cabinet upgrade here: https://www.homeandwork.openreach.co.uk/when-can-i-get-fibre.aspx

We’re currently in the “Design” phase:fibre-journey-design

The full press release from BT is here: BROADBAND SPEEDS SET TO SOAR IN CAMPAIGNING CHELTENHAM COMMUNITY THANKS TO PIONEERING DEAL

April 2016 Update

Virgin

Virgin Media have recently completed roadworks to extend their cable network to just three houses on Manor Park, taken from a distribution point on Chargrove Lane:

Virgin Manor Park

We’re in touch with Virgin and are awaiting a response from them on what their plans are for Manor Park and if this can be extended to the rest of Manor Park / the Manor Farm development. Alex Chalk MP has also emailed Virgin asking to be copied in on any replies, which should hopefully ensure we at least get a response from them.

Fastershire / BT

Fastershire have asked BT to quote for enabling a number of cabinets (including ours), but have so far failed to receive a response from them.

Fastershire have said:

To try to get this going before the closure of the old state aid scheme,
we submitted a change request to BT to seek the costs of upgrading c. 70
cabinets (including Cheltenham 151) with the intention that they would be
brought into the existing contract.

We have yet to receive a written response and have had conflicting verbal
responses over whether a response will be provided.  As the state aid
provision has ceased for now and due to the almost year of waiting we’ve
assumed that this option is no longer available hence removing it as a
formal stage from the strategy.

…the new strategy retains the option to bring cabinets into the contract (subject to state aid).  But we have no way of compelling BT to respond.  There is no further encouragement required from our side.

…we’d welcome an approach to bring any remaining cabinet into the contract.

Alex Chalk’s office wrote to Openreach asking why they didn’t reply to Fastershire. Openreach replied claiming they did respond, Fastershire deny that this is the case.

Fastershire Stage 3

There is hope that Fastershire will include our cabinet in Stage 3 of their plans, although we’re not sure when phase 3 will start. Fastershire have told us:

“Stage 3 is dependent on negotiations being entered into by BT. We have raised our interest in beginning this process and are awaiting response. Due to Stage 3 relying on the commencement of negotiations, it isn’t possible at this stage to suggest a timeframe.”

It’s also dependant on BT quoting fastershire a simmilar figure to the £10k we were quoted. Fastershire said

“if they bid back their ability to deliver cab 151 for the sort of money they’ve talked to the community about then there shouldn’t be a problem”.

The Superfast Extension Programme provides funds for stages 3 and 4. Stage 3 represents a negotiation with BT to extend their existing contract, whereas Stage 4 relates to the new procurement of an additional contract which was awarded to Gigaclear (6,439 properties getting 1Gbps!) 

Survey

Thanks to everyone who took the time to complete the survey Alex Chalk created. We’re still waiting to hear back from BT, Fastershire and Virgin to see if the results of the survey have made any difference. In terms of the difference it may have:

  • BT – They may decide there’s enough interest from the community and the cabinet is now considered commercially viable, or enough interest to reducing the amount quoted to us to part fund the cabinet.
  • Virgin – Increased potential to be included in their “project lightening” roll-out. Springbank in Cheltenham has recently been included in Virgin’s plans. From what Virgin have said before, i think the block paving in our area will make it prohibitively expensive for them.
  • Fastershire – Help ensure we’re included in Stage 3 of their roll-outs (Superfast Extension Programme)

Update from Broadband Summit

You my have seen in the news that Alex Chalk (MP for Cheltenham) held a broadband summit recently with BT, Virgin and Fastershire. Cheltenham 151 attended this and we pushed for our inclusion in the FTTC super-fast broadband roll-out.

The good news from this is that BT and Virgin are going to take another look at providing super-fast FTTC broadband to our area. Part of this will depend on demand from the community, so we’d be grateful if you could complete the survey Alex Chalk has set up here: http://www.surveygizmo.com/s3/1967725/broadbandsurvey

Fastershire have pledged that if the commercial providers conclude they are still unable to assist, they will make subsidised satellite broadband available for areas with broadband connection capacities of less than 2 Mbps, as part of their Universal Service Commitment to ensure 100% of Gloucestershire has access to a minimum 2 Mbps service by the end of this year. We know satellite isn’t idea due to usage caps and high latency, so we’ll continue to fight for FTTC from Fastershire.

In the meeting Fastershire acknowledged that the cost-per-property to update our cabinet was less than their average cost-per-property, even when only taking into account those of us who can’t get Virgin. They also said they were working to out-of-date information. With the help of Alex Chalk we’re hopeful that if the commercial operators won’t cover us then Fastershire won’t have a good reason for not including us.

Project Update

We’ve been working hard behind the scenes on the campaign, but haven’t posted an update in a while, so here’s what we’ve been up to recently:

  1. Emailing Fastershire
  2. Approaching ISPs to fund the cabinet
  3. Fundraising to pay Openreach ourselves
  4. Looking into Broadband Connection Vouchers – a potential funding source

Fastershire
We’ve been sending frequent emails to Fastershire to try to find out if they’re making decisions based on up-to-date and accurate information. We’re also trying to find out when they plan to reconsider cabinets in Cheltenham. So far it would seem the information they hold isn’t accurate and they don’t care about Cheltenham.

ISP Funding
We sent an email to the main ISPs asking if they’d consider funding the cabinet in exchange for good publicity and pledges from the community to switch to use them as their ISP. Only one ISP replied and they turned down our request.

Fundraising
The local community responded very positively to the fundraising efforts. So far we’ve had pledges of £3,140 from 14 households. Whilst this is an impressive amount, it’s still short of the £9k + VAT required. If everyone connected to 151 donated then the average donation required would be around £60 per house

Connection Vouchers
There’s a government scheme to provide businesses with super-fast broadband. We had several replies to our call for businesses in the area to get in touch and it looks like two of them may be eligible for funding. We’re currently focusing on trying to find an approved supplier that will provide a solution that benefits us all, rather than providing something only for the businesses.

If you’d like to get in touch then email us at Cheltenham151@gmail.com