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Welshwood Park’s FTTC Broadband Goes Live After Locals Pay GBP23K

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2016 (9:08 am) - Score 582
welshwood-park

The situation in Welshwood Park (Essex, England) is not your ordinary tale of slow broadband and stems from a decision 20 years ago, when locals refused to allow new cables to be laid. Sadly this made it harder to upgrade the area and so until now residents have been isolated from faster services.

Admittedly 20 years ago the Internet was still in the dark ages of early dialup connectivity and indeed most people in the United Kingdom didn’t even know it existed. In that sense it’s understandable that locals wouldn’t have been able to grasp the longer term impact of campaigning against an upgrade to local infrastructure for fear of having their road and pavements damaged.

Since then most of Colchester in Essex has been upgraded to support superfast broadband (24Mbps+) style connectivity, with both BTOpenreach’s ‘up to’ 80Mbps FTTC and Virgin Media’s 200Mbps capable cable network having significant coverage in the area. But sadly the area of Welshwood Park has been left to suffer from slow ADSL speeds of around 2Mbps.

Back in early 2014 the Welshwood Park Residents’ Association (WPRA) recognised that something needed to be done and began lobbying the Essex County Council to include them into the BT and state aid supported Superfast Essex roll-out, but for whatever reason the council was unable to help (perhaps it was considered too urban, being on the edge of the town).

After initially investigating alternative approaches (fixed wireless connectivity, Satellite etc.) they eventually decided (end of 2014) upon a co-funded community approach with BT, which would require locals to raise £23,000 from their own pockets. Some 15 months later and the work has recently completed, with a new street cabinet (PCP10) being installed on Welshwood Park Road.

Peter Halliday, WPRA Chairman, said (Daily Gazette):

“At first the costs seemed prohibitive but we were just determined. Committee members went from house to house explaining the need for faster broadband and asking residents to make a contribution. Some residents understandably felt it wasn’t relevant to them but most were very supportive and generous.”

Some will see this as a positive approach and indeed the outcome is good news for those who live in the area, although others will no doubt despair that residents had to pay for a critical infrastructure upgrade in an urban area where the private sector should normally be able to foot the bill itself.

It’s a shame there isn’t some sort of clawback arrangement like in the BDUK contracts, where BT agrees to payback some or all of the contribution as local take-up improves. Granted this wouldn’t work everywhere, but at the very least it might make such contracts easier to sell and justify.

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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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5 Responses
  1. GNewton

    Welshwood Park in Colchester is a very rich neighbourhood. £23,000 is just pocket money for them.

  2. fastman

    Cab has been live around 6 months or so

  3. fastman

    East Bay 10 was a new PCP and DSLAM was former EO long way from exchange

  4. Roger Melly

    And what was all the money that BT had for line rental over the years used for?
    Surely 20 years of line rental alone should cover this cost.
    BDUK pay BT for the Superfarce Fraudband and yet they cherry pick the easy to reach areas which means they can reduce BTOpenreach spending on infrastructure (their figures have been reducing steadily). Then they leave pockets unconnected so they can then charge a disproportionate fee ON TOP of all the money received – only to deliver what they should have done in the first place…
    BT are laughing all the way to the bank.
    BT and BTOpenreach need to be separated now, with all BT dark fibre and exchanges opened up for competition.
    We need to give the UK a properly connected future – not one dictated by an aggressive monopoly running out of control and stopping at nothing to protect an aging copper asset – whilst it shifts business model into content…
    A full a deep enquiry into BT and BT Openreach should be considered too. Using state aid to overbuild faster networks and wasting public money only to bolster competitive advantage should not be permitted – yet BT has repeatedly done so with impunity.
    How come BT is above the law?

  5. fastman

    Really

    . Using state aid to overbuild faster networks and wasting public money only to bolster competitive advantage should not be permitted – yet BT has repeatedly done so with impunity.

    so where are you referring to

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