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Small Progress on Broadband Cover and 7 Digit Postcodes in Cumbria

Friday, July 4th, 2014 (11:43 am) - Score 749

The Cumbria County Council and BT have finally given a full 7-digit postcode level breakdown (albeit in verbal form) of their anticipated superfast broadband (FTTC/P) coverage in the region, although unfortunately the data is only for the Grasmere telephone exchange area.

Cumbria’s local Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) project aims to make BT’s superfast broadband network available to 93% of local homes and businesses in the county by the end of 2015. As a result some alternative schemes have been seeking the release of more detailed coverage and speed data, down to the 7-digit postcode level, so that they can plan and potentially bid for money to help fix the final 7% (state aid rules prevent NGA networks from overbuilding and thus such data is vital to avoid conflicts).

But local campaigners, such as Martin Campbell from the Grasmere Broadband Initiative, have until now been attempting unsuccessfully to prize the information from the councils and BT’s clutches. This is despite pressure from BDUK to publish the data and an acceptance by BT that they’re “okay for this information, down to seven-digit postcode level, to be published by local bodies if they so choose” (here). Thankfully there has been some progress, but only for Grasmere.

Martin Campbell said:

We finally received a full breakdown (albeit in verbal form) of seven digit postcodes and the anticipated coverage for each. Likewise we discovered the currently proposed timing for the delivery of broadband which will happen for the village in two phases. The first phase by Sept 2014, for about 23% of the village connections who are hooked up to Grasmere’s single cabinet (which is currently being commissioned – see images below) These connections can expect speeds of 24Mb/s or above. (4:1 Ratio for Down:Up – ie. 24Mb/s down : 6Mb/s up)

A second cabinet will be installed either next to, or close to the current exchange, this will be live by July 2015 and bring on a further 57% of the village connections, again 24Mb/s or above. We need to do more work to find solutions for the remaining 20% as some 48 properties will not be served at all, with around 70 properties currently slated for lower than the 24Mb/s service. A more detailed report, by postcode, will be posted soon.

So our focus is now on the not spots and the slow spots to see if we can plug the gaps, whilst continuing to persue other options such as 4G. I’m also interested to see what the costs & speeds are for Fibre to the Premises from the cabinets that are put in place.”

However it’s important to stress that Cumbria’s deployment, which is being handled by BTOpenreach, can and often does change due to unexpected events on the ground. Similarly Cumbria are currently working on plans to extend the projects coverage through the Superfast Extension Programme, which has seen BDUK indicatively allocate an additional £2.86m to the county, and this too could potentially result in changes to the current plan.

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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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