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UPD Strong Uptake as Street Cabinet 82 in Hunslet Finally Gets FTTC After Battle

Monday, December 9th, 2013 (1:46 am) - Score 4,524

The long running spat over Street Cabinet 82 in Hunslet (Middleton, South Leeds), which was originally deemed to be commercially unviable for an upgrade to superfast broadband (FTTC), has finally come to an end after BTOpenreach upgraded the cabinet as part of its £2.5bn roll-out (i.e. not BDUK funded).

Campaigners in the Middleton area have been battling to get cabinet 82, which is served by the Hunslet exchange, upgraded since early 2012 (here). The cabinet is believed to connect around 400+ properties that currently suffer from slow broadband speeds, although campaigners were able to survey the local homes and demonstrate strong demand for the faster service.

Unfortunately Openreach continued to reject the calls and last year told one local resident that “[82] is a small cab with a small number of premise connected to it. Our calculations showed that it would not be commercially viable to upgrade.” BT instead advised that locals seek support through the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) fund.

But the battle raged on and locals continued to campaign until BT finally relented. The cabinet is officially due to go live today but ISPreview.co.uk understands that its ports have already been filled (this took less than 24 hours), which is quite impressive to say the least.

Carl Thomas, Fibre for Middleton Campaigner, told ISPreview.co.uk:

This is the best possible Christmas present for so many people in this previously under-served area. From being able to work from home for the first time to enjoying the media-rich Internet to, in the case of a deaf family, being able to communicate with relatives via sign language over Skype this is quite literally life-changing.

Once the decision was made to build this cabinet there were a lot of issues preventing the start of the construction, worked on by Openreach, land-owners and the local council, and demand just continued to grow and grow as evidenced by that this cabinet was live a little before 2am on 4th December, and had no capacity free by that same afternoon.

Openreach have done an amazing job getting this built as quickly as they did once they could start construction. A near-record time cabinet build followed by a near-record speed sell-out of the capacity. More capacity will be added within the next few days and I am hoping we’ll prove just how viable this cabinet was by completely filling the 288 connections it can hold. Going by the demand yet to be satisfied we’ll be keeping Openreach busy trying to keep up with us for a while yet. The time, energy and money spent on this campaign already feels so worth it seeing the excitement from residents who’ve managed to place orders and the impatience and enthusiasm from those waiting.

Huge thanks to all concerned within local and national government, residents, Openreach, and to ISPReview for helping to shine some light on this.

Now onto the remaining cabinets that are hopefully being covered by BDUK. It never stops….”

Sadly some cabinets cost tens of thousands of pounds or considerably more to upgrade, which can be caused by all sorts of issues (e.g. restricted access, blocked ducts, power supply costs, the need for road closures etc.) and this becomes an even bigger problem if the cabinet is only used to serve a small number of premises.

Thankfully not every campaign meets with refusal and sometimes a bit of perseverance can make a big difference.

UPDATE 10th December 2013

Whoops.. it’s in the south Leeds area and not north of Greater Manchester (there are two ‘Middletons’).

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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15 Responses
  1. MikeW says:

    Hunslet and Middleton are, in the strict sense, north of Greater Manchester, but are probably best described as being in South Leeds.

  2. Ignitionnet says:

    Card number 3, along with additional tie pairs to accommodate the extra line card, coming soon. We’ve already hit the trigger level for a 3rd card less than a week after the cabinet was RFS 🙂

  3. Darren says:

    It’s interesting that despite the fight to get it installed and all the apparent demand there were still only two cards connected initially.

    1. Ignitionnet says:

      Hi Darren, where did you get that number from?

  4. fastman says:

    only one card was installed initially

    1. Ignitionnet says:

      I have informed the community that I will sulk horribly if we don’t fill all 6. 🙂

  5. MikeW says:

    How much of this demand is down to poor original speeds of ADSL, and how much is down to the implicit demand-generation from having such a visible campaign to get the cabinet(s)upgraded? Do you have a feel for this IgnitionNet?

    1. Ignitionnet says:

      The big spike in demand at the start, the cabinet is full and awaiting new capacity for the second time, was due to campaign. There will now come word of mouth – I have asked residents installed to speak when neighbours about it and the effect it is having in their household.

      I want every port on that cabinet full. I will continue to stimulate demand until it is. That not only puts the cabinet’s viability beyond soubt but demonstrates big demand in the area which Mr BDUK will be made aware of.

  6. NGA for all says:

    This is a great example when BT thought it was serving c150 were going about demanding they wait for the BDUK subsidies averaging at £47k (NAO table 11 exiended). When challenged and when on learning it was 400 customers the barriers eventually disappeared and they did not even request a £10k-£15 matched funding from the community.

    Carl deserves huge credit for unpicking the cost myths one by one.

    Is BT claiming subsidies for the first 48 port card? The going rate is about $15-$20 a port, so incremental ports once the cabinet is in place should not be an issue.

    His blog on his experiences should be read by all communities.

    1. fastman says:

      NGA for all –
      this is a typical scenario where developer builds 400 houses has no engagement with openreach around FTTP for new sites which it should be doing and ensuring its premises are prebuilt with FTTP and spends extensive amount on Community centre / school / something else using section 106 money – and then expects the Openreach commercial programme to pick up infrastrcuture cost

      if developer has no engagement specifically with Openreach around FTTP provision for new build then you get copper as that part of regulatory USC

      Commercial programme completes spring 2014 ao now only BDUK in progress or other private funding if not it bduk

    2. fastman says:

      cab 82 commercial – not bduk

    3. NGA for all says:

      @fastman It is commercial now after all the pressure which is good, but do not pretend BT were not hoping to collect a subsidy.

      PSTN planners but not the fibre planners picked up the planning notice?

    4. Ignitionnet says:

      Appreciate your kind remarks. Thank you.

  7. Ignitionnet says:

    2nd card has been full for a few days and people are queuing up to start on the 3rd however it looks as though there are a few issues getting that 3rd card live.

    Once it goes live more orders will be going in. There were at least 20 people connected yesterday alone.

    Loads of people doing high bandwidth things online for the first time in a while or even ever.

    1. Ignitionnet says:

      However given that new residents are moving in and there are no pairs to provision them on, haven’t been beyond repairs and house moves for at least 11 months, a new FTTC card may not necessarily be that major a priority.

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