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South Gloucestershire UK “village of the future” Suffers from Slow Broadband

Friday, January 31st, 2014 (9:09 am) - Score 1,869

Residents of Aurora Springs, a new homes development in South Gloucestershire (England) that forms part of the wider Cheswick “Urban Village Concept” near Bristol, have complained to BT and the city council because their “village of the future” suffers from slow broadband access and some even have no access to a phone service.

Most right minded people might think that any modern development of new homes, such as the 250 properties on the Aurora Springs patch of Cheswick Village that are being built by Redrow, would as a basic rule also build in access to a modern superfast broadband infrastructure (it’s always cheapest to do this before the properties actually go up).

Unfortunately, much as the boss of Fluidata recently highlighted (here), that’s not always the case. Some developers focus on building the homes without ensuring that the telecoms side of things will be able to cope with modern demand, which appears to be what’s happened at Aurora Springs; including some of the surrounding developments inside Cheswick Village.

The buildings on Aurora Springs comprise a mixture of 2, 3 and 4 bedroom homes and some 4 or 5 bedroom homes in neighbouring Wallscourt Park. The area is so big that Redrow claims it will eventually host its own village centre, school, pub, restaurant, surgery, pharmacy and care home.

But many of those whom brought into the “village of the future” advertising have been left without working landlines or only slower Internet connectivity and they don’t appear to be part of BT’s on-going rollout of superfast broadband.

Sejal Hampson, Campaign leader and Local Resident, said (Bristol Post):

I am heartened by the support local residents have been shown by our councillors and MPs, but I think this situation can be and should be avoided in the future by more forward planning and a planning review process which is more regularly reviewed from the start of a planning application to when the first shovel hits the ground to start the build.

In this day and age residents should not have been left without adequate action by Openreach to ensure each household had a landline facility and the broadband situation demonstrates how quickly the country is evolving in terms of broadband appetite and demand. It’s ludicrous that as a new estate which is a captive audience to want to use the latest technology and speeds that we have been left with inconsistent broadband service and poor speeds.”

ISPreview.co.uk notes that the area appears to be connected via the local Filton telephone exchange, which is well stocked with support for plenty of unbundled broadband ISPs and BT’s latest up to 80Mbps FTTC technology. But clearly the latter doesn’t currently extend into some or all of the new development.

But there is hope of an improvement on the horizon, with both BT and the city council acknowledging the problem. A meeting has now been set for next Saturday where local residents, MPs, BT and Redrow will discuss the situation with a view to hopefully reaching some kind of solution.

The situation also highlights how difficult it is to know whether or not a new development has already been enabled for FTTC or faster fibre optic (FTTP/H) technology. New developments often don’t show up in the usual checkers and even when they do then the exchange based coverage data often isn’t relevant to FTTC, where at a local level it’s your street cabinet that matters.

People might be quick to blame BT on this one, and indeed they do share some of the responsibility via the quality of local infrastructure, but on a big site like this it’s the property developer who must also take ultimate responsibility for ensuring that there’s a modern connectivity solution in place for when people move in. The Government should perhaps also be doing more to encourage this.

Leave a Comment
20 Responses
  1. Avatar New_Londoner says:

    Beggars belief that the developer did not sort this out at an early stage of construction. What has Redrow said about this? What did it tell residents would be available when they purchased the homes?

    Mind you, people in Somerset might query use of the phrase “suffers” in relation to broadband. As would those in Syria. Perhaps the people of Aurora Springs need a sense of perspective.

  2. Mark Jackson Mark Jackson says:

    Did you just conflate slow broadband in Aurora Springs with Syria, seriously :)? Generally I don’t think it’s right to blame the people, especially given the difficulty of checking coverage on new developments. But fair point on the developer.

    1. Avatar New_Londoner says:

      Just pointing out that “suffering” probably isn’t something to link to broadband, not when people elsewhere in this country and other parts of the world really are suffering genuine hardship. We all need to keep a sense of perspective.

    2. Mark Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      Yes we do, agree to disagree ;).

  3. Avatar Unknown101 says:

    The developers at fault here – they should of advised new sites at BT Openreach about the situation. Obviously if they don’t even have working phone lines then Redrow are to blame for not intiating it with Openreach an installing the equipment into the ground ready for openreach. Tim to dig up all the pavements…..

  4. Avatar Unknown101 says:

    Can’t see FTTC being a problem very soon. Cab 5 is only down the road approx 300m from the entrance of the site an it looks like it’s ducted right to the entrance of the development site with a set of footway boxes all the way down so a 100pr feed could be fed back. Cab has a lampost right next to it power, shell on the cab is a newer one so doesn’t need changing and dslam right next to it would only require a few metres of duct to the footway boxes Infront of the cab…

  5. Avatar dragoneast says:

    Presumably not just developers, but the legal professionals in the conveyancing field haven’t yet caught up with new-fangled things like broadband? Do we really want to be mollycoddled from the cradle to the grave? If so, expect to pay for it. Everybody just parrots the usual suspects. Well, if we behave like parrots, perhaps we can’t complain about being treated like them?

  6. Some numbers using 2013 postcode data

    30 postcodes, 430 premises.

    Best speeds from ADSL/ADSL2+ seem to be down near Long Down Avenue, next to MOD site. University end looks to be slower. Maximum speed of 6.1 Mbps and only 8 postcodes faster than 2 Mbps.

  7. Avatar MikeW says:

    The plonkers, Rodney.

    How on earth can a developer get away with marketing a large new estate as a village of “the future” when they’ve taken no steps to actually ensure that the very best communication provision is available.

    In this instance, I frankly don’t care whether they chose Virgin, Openreach, Gigaclear or even Wansdyke Telecom… it just doesn’t matter. Any would do.


  8. Avatar fastman says:

    think th residents should ask the developer –

  9. Avatar fastman says:

    unknown — community is served from a seperate cab (new cab for development as over 60 premises – thats what happends when you dont engage around fibre – so no fttc into that site

    1. Avatar Unknown101 says:

      Why would it require a new cab for 60 premises, doesn’t make sense.

  10. Avatar fastman says:

    there are 240 premises on site so any site greater than 60 – 70 premises gets a new copper cab – thats to do with USC and provision of voice so a new big development gets a new copper cab —

  11. Avatar Unknown101 says:

    Oh you stated over 60 as if it was 90 new premises or something now I know it’s 200+ then that makes sense but as soon as cab 5
    gets FTTC, and the e sides for this new cab are fed from there then it wouldn’t take much to blow the fibre from that cab to the new one using the new/existing ducting and hopefully be power near to utilise for the DSLAM.

  12. Avatar fastman says:

    thats all correct but will not happen unless that is funded – not commercial and not in bduk

  13. Avatar DTMark says:

    Buyer beware I think.

    Is it cabled? No. Skip that one. Next..

  14. Avatar Kasius says:

    To be fair I have lived on the development for last 6 months and I have noticed no difference in broadband speed from my old place where we had Virgin superfast broadband and here. Our data usage is quite intense as its used for work from home and on demand tv on at least 2-3 devices. Apparently we are connected using old fashioned copper cabling. I expected worse so I have no complaints. Agree with first poster its not suffering not getting fast broadband more of an annoyance

  15. Avatar Boggy says:

    Agree with the not suffering – but we have lived on the development for a month now and do not even have a landline! Coupled with the low quality mobile signal it is an issue, and if we ever, god forbid, have to call the emergency services we would struggly to get a call through. BT have given me the run around and no clear answers on moves towards resolution.

  16. Avatar sejal says:

    The reporting on this is slightly inaccurate from the all the evidence in place the developer did everything they should of and Openreach admitted liability for the mess they created by not creating enough landline capacity
    As such they have now agreed to absorb the cost of upgrading BOx 28 at Cheswick to fibre
    Important to report things that are factually correct

  17. Avatar Martin says:

    I live at a stone throw distance from Box 28, broadband speed is a hopeless 0.78Mbps, according to the BT engineer who came to see if they could do any improvement and he said the line attenuation is over 63dB (the higher the worse) due to the line distance from the exchange to the green junction box. At this level of attenuation, there is no hope to get any decent speed. Local people don’t have any alternatives from ordinary ISPs; I am hoping BT will get FTTC sorted soon. Otherwise, I believe local residents should group together and install a village-wide microwave link (eg from ABInternet, transmitter in South Wales, accessible from Cheswick Village) with local wifi mesh network installed on lamp posts for high speed internet access. This way we can ditch BT completely in protest!! Telephone services can also be setup over the same network via VoIP. I personally believe this is going to be cheaper per each household on average compared to BT solution anyway. And far cheaper than paying that ridiculous village management fees (OM)!!!

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