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

Monday, Dec 9th, 2013 (1:46 am) - Score 4,612
bt-engineer-cutting-fibre-optic-cable

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.

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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.

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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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Mark-Jackson
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 X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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