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Surrey UK Sees BT FTTP Broadband as Local Rollout Project Nears Completion

Monday, October 20th, 2014 (8:53 am) - Score 9,468
telegraph_pole_fibre_optic

Sometimes the most advanced and interesting developments happen towards the end of a roll-out and that appears to be the case in Surrey (England), where one of our readers has spotted an ultrafast Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) rollout finally taking place in the tiny village area of Hascombe.

The local £35m+ Superfast Surrey project looks set to join a separate scheme in Rutland (here) as becoming one of the country’s first Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) style programmes to reach completion by the end of this year, when it’s stated goal of achieving 99% BTfibre broadband” (FTTC/P) coverage is due to be achieved (note: the project’s website promises that locals will be able to access “speeds in excess of 15Mbps“).

It’s unclear precisely how many of that 99% will also receive “superfast broadband” (24Mbps+) speeds, although we’d predict it to be around the required 95% mark because Surrey wasn’t allocated any additional funding as part of the Government’s recent Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) based Superfast Extension Programme (here).

In terms of progress, the Surrey scheme managed to reach an additional 42,000 local premises (half-way point) during March 2014 and in August 2014 it was reported that this had increased to 68,858. At that rate the end goal of helping an additional 80,000+ homes and business to access “fibre broadband” (99%) should be achieved on schedule.

However, as we said in the opening, sometimes some of the most interesting developments happen towards the end of a deployment. In this case one of our readers has been posting about an interesting development in the tiny community of Hascombe, which is home to just 307 people. Despite this Hascombe has its own mini BT telephone exchange, which until recently was only able to deliver basic ADSLMax (up to 8Mbps) broadband services.

But lately this situation has begun to change as BTOpenreach engineers have flocked to the area in an effort to run new fibre optic cables across local telegraph poles. A closer inspection of the labels on a fibre distribution point (dp), which is attached to one of the poles, clearly mentions FTTP (i.e. 330Mbps capable).

A spokesperson for Openreach told ISPreview.co.uk that they couldn’t give any more details beyond what was already known, although they agreed that the deployment was FTTP. Indeed a quick search of the local exchange confirms that both FTTC and FTTP were set to be rolled out in the area by the end of September, although clearly the work is still on-going (currently nearing completion by the looks of it).

The ability to order FTTC and FTTP will afford a significant boost to locals, many of which have until recently been more use to average sync speeds of around 5Mbps. But Hascombe is by no means the only community getting FTTP broadband from BT and we’ve recently covered many similar reports from across the country. Openreach’s own list of “coming soon” areas (here) also includes quite a few locations, many of them rural, with FTTP on the schedule.

More often than not it can make more economic sense for BT to roll-out their slower ‘up to’ 80Mbps FTTC product, although this rule doesn’t follow the same for every area and we’re seeing a lot more locations where FTTP has become a viable solution; especially locations that make use of existing telegraph poles instead of underground wiring.

It’s worth remembering that the original Surrey procurement was underway some time before the BDUK framework was put in place and BT also had some competition in the procurement phase from Briskona Ltd and ETDE, which is why it’s able to complete so much earlier than other programmes where the end-date is still between 1-2 years away.

However the Government is expected to announce a third round of BDUK funding at the end of this year and we’d predict that Surrey may receive a fresh allocation in order to help it achieve 100% coverage of 24-30Mbps+ speeds by around 2020.

UPDATE 21st October 2014

A new update from BT today reveals that the service is now available to 75,500 homes and businesses across the county and has also installed its 500th street cabinet.

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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 Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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29 Responses
  1. Avatar Bob2002

    Don’t Google roll out a lot of their fibre across poles rather than underground?

  2. Avatar Steve Jones

    I suspect that there are more interesting projects to come. One obvious reason is that nobody will know how much money is “left in the pot”, until fairly well into the project. That’s because there will be a lot of uncertainty over actual costs and, also, some element of “claw-back” might kick in. I also rather suspect that a balance has to be struck over those that will (at least in this phase) end up with a USC service and the proportion that will be “super-fast”.
    So far, there are no hints from any of the BDUK projects that any of the “super-fast” contractual targets are under threat, but for some it’s still (relatively) early days. Personally I suspect that most of these projects will surpass the initial targets as the evidence appears to be that the bids were made using conservative assumptions. That might be good news for some, but they’ll have to wait.

    • Conservative Assumptions – there was nothing stopping the milestone payments of c£200 per premise passed being revised once the surveys were complete.
      More transparency on the costs or rather prices would have meant more FTTP planned by Openreach rather than BT Group given time to gouge Gov/LAs using the milestone payments.
      FTTP cheaper than FTTC metrics were worked out in Cornwall some time ago.
      BT Group made clear to PAC their milestone payments had all the efficiencies of the commercial programme factored in. This is along with the promise of £1bn matched capital for rural and claims of £100k cost per cabinet and millions per exchange were all false.
      It will interesting to see a white paper on future proofing in Surrey. The milestone payments look to have a 20% uplift for ‘future proofing’. It will be good to understand how much spare tubing and fibre have been provisioned for the 20% unlikely to benefit from the 620 cabinets deployed.
      Good to see but the lack of transparency may mean a much bigger opportunity for Openreach (more network and cost transformation) and customers missed.

    • Avatar Steve Jones

      Indeed FTTP does make more financial sense than FTTC for some localities. Especially the more remote and sparsely populated areas. However, that wasn’t the point. The issue is just how much money will be left in the pot after the most promising FTTC locations are dealt with.
      As for transparency, the individual BDUK projects could be a bit more forthcoming, but I really doubt many of them know what the end game looks like at this stage. The priorities at this stage will be to maximise the rate of coverage of premises. The rest is bound to come later.

    • Steve – 620 cabinets are not the most promising locations, that’s ALL the locations to maximise subsidy collection (not efficient design or cost) using the milestone payment system, chucking a bit of FTTP with some left over funding looks an after thought, the monies allowed significant future proofing. It would be good to itemise those future poofing elements. This is not invading anybodies commercial confidentiality, just understanding what is being delivered for the very substantial subsidies paid.

    • Avatar GNewton

      NGA for all: The whole BDUK process is a farce because of the lack of transparency. Too many local authorities are hiding i formation under so-called commercial confidentiality clauses. I know of several cases where customers were hooked up to VDSL lines at a cost of £2400 per premise. We made countless FoI requests, quite often you can’t even get proper postcode details, let alone cabinet details and costs, not even after completed surveys. This secrecy in BDUK projects often prevents other network providers from investing in certain areas, nobody is keen on competing with taxpayer-funded entities.

    • Avatar No Clue

      Thank you NGA for the accurate information rather than a good BT bottom lick.

    • Avatar TheFacts

      The subduct looks to be from http://emtelle.com/?id=828

      Emtelle currently supply 100% of BT’s uPVC Duct requirements, approximately 50% of their sub duct and 80% of their Blown Fibre Tubing.

    • @The Facts; Thanks, but which one; 7 tubes as might be needed or 2 tubes which is feared?. Is it a 24 fibre bundle per tube or 4 fibre as is feared closest to the cabinet? The latter will mean more demands later even though there is sufficient money in place for the former. Future proofing costs should include the former and more.

  3. Avatar Walter G M Willcox

    Meanwhile the so called “commercial development” in Ewhurst Surrey on the Cranleigh exchange (after BT were allowed to destroy our SEEDA Grant-approved project when they didn’t submit a compliant bid) the situation is getting worse than described here** with more properties discovered unable to order a VDSL service; others in two locations are now condemned even though there are properties achieving single-figure VDSL speeds. A further business fibre connection to the Duke of Kent School has been made, after significant delays, with only 12 fibres on overhead poles. Yet the residential properties en route are not offered FTTP nor even a much shorter copper route now the supporting poles are in place despite requests to do so.

    **http://www.texp.co.uk/downloads/Broadband%20Performance%20Ewhurst%20-%20Issue%202.pdf
    Other papers on this site may also be of interest.

    • I really feel for you, I’m on single digit VDSL speeds, but predicted ~17. Many of the properties here are predicted VDSL speeds of ~5mbps. However, this work looks to solve our problems, while yours are still there with a vengeance.

    • Avatar Steve Jones

      So let me get this right. The FTTC cabinet was installed under part of the commercial rollout. Just what legal powers do you think there are that could have been exercised to stop it?

    • Steve – the same issue applies to public funded Cabinets, that is assuming there is no future proofing in the form of extra tubing to the handover point so FOD can be expedited in the future. The latter we know from the NAO that there were large allowances. It is not unreasonable to request an industry white paper describing the resources being put in place for this critical infrastructure at public expense where that expense has been itemised in offical documents.

      The cost recovery for fixed lines is based on a cost of replacement so the money is being collected and has been collected to support on going investment in the access network, but BT investment even if we include VDSL investment has been falling, the BT -Redburn sell recomemndation provides interesting input.

    • Avatar TheFacts

      NGA – what detail of resources etc. would you want, and would it be analysed?

    • Avatar gerarda

      @steve jones. Unfortunately BT have been allowed to get to a position where they can behave in a predatory manner at a net cost to the public purse and still be awarded public sector contracts and subsidies

    • @The Facts Given the budgets made available, you would expect to see 4x7mm tubing to a cabinet with a possible breakout box where the first tube is taking 4 or 24 fibres to the cabinet. Overhead you would put in as big as fibre bundle as you could safely do. This should not a big deal if the same components for urban cabs is applied to rural. But by withdrawing FOD for residential why would you future proof?
      Interesting to know if public purse is paying for the first 48 port card at c$16 a port or all six cards in a Hu288. The funding looks to be for fully loaded cabinets.
      Ideally the surveys would have helped determine an efficent design, do you invest in power or push fibre further?

    • Avatar Steve Jones

      @NGA For All

      There’s every reason to have extra fibre capacity to FTTC cabinets, whether full commercial or under the subsidy schemes. Quite apart from the potential need to provide new cabinets to increase capacity, we know that fibre is likely to be pushed further into the network using deployment strategies such as FTTrN and G.Fast. All will require extra capacity.

      I think it almost certain that much of the FTTP in Cornwall will have made use of aggregation points where FTTC cabinets have been located. Having such aggregation points further into the network is also an enabler for leased lines. I’d find it astonishing if, once ducts have been cleared, that opportunity hasn’t been taken to install multiple tubes. The incremental costs are, after all, trivial at that stage. Once installed, it’s relatively cheap to blow new fibre down tubes.

    • Avatar No Clue

      Actual logical figures will confuse him.

    • Steve, I would hope so, but what the harm in a white paper to confirm these resources? They would not cost more given the volume and scale of the activity, yet unconfirmed reports in Surrey suggest just two tubes and a 4fibre strand feeding one cabinet. If so and I hope it is wrong then it would be terribly shortsighted. It would be not unfair to call it very stupid and irresponsible. Can you confirm something better?

    • Avatar TheFacts

      Now in the right place…

      The subduct looks to be from http://emtelle.com/?id=828

      Emtelle currently supply 100% of BT’s uPVC Duct requirements, approximately 50% of their sub duct and 80% of their Blown Fibre Tubing.

      There may be 2 tubes into the cabinet but other tubes for other uses in the cable chamber?

    • Avatar fastman2

      more disinformatrion again — best not to mention the propsoed vendor subesquently exited the UK residential market leaveing thousand os customers high and dry miles away from surrey

    • Avatar gerarda

      @fastman BT and their pet lobbyists are the experts at disinformation. It was that which has got us into the BDUK mess in the first place

  4. Avatar Gadget

    So what is the OMR output for the postcodes getting low VDSL speeds (and are they above the 2Mbps threshold? Are they white for Basic broadband and also Highspeed Broadband? Are the properties affected in a different postcode to the main village?
    The school circuit is a dedicated bandwidth product supplied under commercial terms, and completely different to a PON architecture used to deliver FTTP. The fact that there is spare capacity(almost by default as very few cables have a single fibre embedded)is good news for the future but not a reason for deploying FTTP to other completely different customers in and of itself.

    • Avatar Gadget

      apologies should have been posted as a reply to Walter’s comment above

    • Avatar No Clue

      Yeah that is always an issue, changing names when your original questions are torn apart

    • Avatar Walter G M Willcox

      Noting that Ewhurst is not part of SCC’s procurement, the village of 900 properties is connected only as far as the aggregation point with only a 240 fibre cable with nearly 50 % of the 12-fibre bundles already consumed en route. The final bullet only has a 7 micro-tube duct leaving the joint to feed three cabinets = 2 per cabinet with one each containing a 4 fibre bundle. More importantly many of the GPO salt glazed ducts are jammed with other copper cables as well as a few older much larger fibre cables and there was significant difficulty in reaching at least one of the FTTCs. It follows that larger bundles are not practical so a maximum of 8 fibres might eventually be available with no space (in ECI OR Huawei) cabinets for FTTP distribution without major civil works. Our procurement specification, which was ignored, specifically called for a new fibre backbone in new ducts as we were already painfully aware of very poor and non existent ADSL services.

      In Surrey the BDUK project has mainly installed either Huawei 128 cabinets fitted initially with only 2 * 32 channel line cards and one set of 100 pr tie cables or the Huawei 288 with one or two 48 channel line cards again with usually only one set of 100 pr tie cables. In Albury,, Surrey the 288 cabinet has been without VDSL availability for about a month with a promised delivery date of 5 November. (Ewhurst waited over 6 months for one cabinet to be enlarged.) With a few exceptions none of the FTTC deployments approach the PCP capacities. IMHO the FTTC deployment is inadequate and not sufficiently attractive performance-wise nor financially for all to take up the service and there are far too many unable to order a VDSL service. E.g. There are at least 40 properties denied a VDSL service in Ewhurst and 42 off PCP 2 on Shere when their neighbours in Peaslake mainly have availability via PCPS 1 & 6 off the Abinger exchange. Small wonder Mr Vaizey still (today on BBC 1 Rip-off Britain) rabbets on about having access or passing properties. Matters are not improved by the difficulties experienced in achieving remedial activities either.

      Contrast that solution with B4RN where EVERY property has two individual P2P fibres with one spare. Therefore they already provide 1,000 Mbps both up and down and have avoided the significant limitations of all PON type solutions.

  5. A token FTTP deployment in Hascombe while the deployment in the majority of places does not provide future proofing; is this a good deal for taxpayers? It seems there are minimal installations in most of Surrey so that BT can secure maximum milestone payments.

    Can SCC and BT confirm that this is not the case by providing evidence that sufficient fibres are in place so that further subsidies will not be required in the future? Surely this detail will be in the invoices that are supposed to be checked before taxpayer’s money is handed over.

    After all, the original project target was for 100% coverage at better than 24Mbps by 2014, with FTTP on Demand stated as a residential and business product that would future proof taxpayer’s investment. This FTTP on Demand product was a straw man if ever there was one and SCC were warned of the likely outcome in 2012, well before the product was revamped as a business only product. For a prediction in 2012 of where we are now, see this blog and comments: http://tinyurl.com/p49d8q5

  6. Avatar Walter G M Willcox

    Noting the comments on peak generating capacity after the Didcot Fire, you’ll see in the link below that a FTTC has only 4 ( or perhaps 6) hours standby and no means to plug in a generator. I.e. The whole FTTC network is vulnerable in peak-load power outages, although I suspect the low pass filters might allow the phone lines to work back to exchanges which are mostly well engineered. (The suggestion that just one FTTC battery can be dismantled and replaced seems quite preposterous.)

    Contrast this approach compared to B4RN’s where they expect rural power outages and all their cabinets include a proper change-over switch with a power socket ready and waiting.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8SDB5CexqAU

  7. Avatar tony

    I dont think the writer of this article has it quite right. I dont think it is interesting that fast internet has arrived in a remote village. BT has no fee paying customers there. The much more interesting fact is that the centre of sunningdale does not have fibre when the rest of the village does. BT can charge business to recieve fast internet. So anybody living near a business will have to put up with slow internet for a very long time. I pay my community charge like everyone else and the local politicians are having the wool pulled over their eyes by BT. The whole thing is a disgrace

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