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UPDATE2 New Homes Development in Bonnyrigg Stuck with Slow Broadband

Monday, May 9th, 2016 (8:33 am) - Score 2,072

A group of residents on the new Hopefield development in Bonnyrigg (Scotland), which is managed by Taylor Wimpey, have setup a campaign to get their local Openreach (BT) Street Cabinet upgraded to FTTC (“fibre broadband”) after becoming frustrated by the areas super slow Internet.

Bonnyrigg is a busy town that sits just outside the boundary of Scotland’s capital city (Edinburgh) and the area is home to approximately 16,000 people, so you’d expect or at least hope that the local connectivity would be pretty good; particularly on any new build home developments.

Sadly some residents on the Hopefield development, specifically those who are connected to the local Street Cabinet no. 56 (Dalkeith Exchange), cannot access “fibre broadband” and have instead been left stuck with ADSL download speeds that sometimes struggle to push above even 1Mbps (Megabits per second).

When Hopefield was built the cabinet itself was still fairly new and, as we’ve seen elsewhere with new builds, this sometimes results in the area being overlooked by the Government’s state aid supported (Digital Scotland) roll-out of superfast broadband connectivity. The news is frustrating for a number of reasons, not least because many others nearby can already get faster services.

According to a BT spokesperson, who was responding to a local complaint, the area isn’t “currently included in the network roll-out because after our initial survey, it was established that Openreach would not be able to upgrade this cabinet at this moment in time because a viable solution could not be found” (clear as mud, but probably means it’s too expensive). Meanwhile the property developer has moved to shift their responsibility.

Sarah MacAndrew, Taylor Wimpey’s Local Customer Services Boss, said (here):

“We’re aware that a number of our customers are experiencing very slow broadband speeds at our Hopefield development in Bonnyrigg, and we share their frustration that we have been unable to help resolve it. Taylor Wimpey is responsible for installing the ducts that carry the cables and lay them as part of the construction process. We have done this at Hopefield.

The responsibility for then putting cables through the ducts and connecting our customers to the network lies solely with Openreach, part of the BT Group. To continue to try and help, we have made contact with Openreach to understand and explore whether there are ways in which we can help to resolve the situation.”

In fairness the biggest responsibility should always rest with the developer of any major new build (they don’t have to use BT, it’s their choice) and also home owners, who should try to ensure that they are happy with the connectivity provided before agreeing to buy (admittedly this isn’t always easy and you are often reliant upon the developer’s promise or definition of “good broadband“).

Outside of that the reality remains that BT is currently only held to a very basic Universal Service Obligation, which requires them to install a working phone line and that may or may not deliver decent broadband speeds (ancient dialup speeds are the current minimum standard). Naturally BT, as a commercial business, will often only deliver the minimum required. The future 10Mbps USO may help, but that’s still being debated and won’t be enforced until 2020.

On the other hand all of this comes hot on the heels of a new deal between the Home Builders Federation (HBF), Government and BT that aims to deliver “fibre based” (FTTC/P) superfast or ultrafast broadband connectivity into new build properties across the United Kingdom (details here and here). But applying this retrospectively to existing / recently completed builds is somewhat of a separate matter.

All of the new policy tends to focus on projects that are currently in the planning phases and not those that are already being built or recently completed. Similarly the forthcoming European policy will soon require “All new buildings – and those undergoing major renovation – for which applications for building permission have been submitted after 31 December 2016 must be high-speed ready” (here). But this won’t help Bonnyrigg or others like it.

Meanwhile residents connected to cabinet 56, which is located on Burnbrae Road at the primary school in Hopefield estate, have setup a Facebook campaign page that seems to be drawing some attention to the problem (Cabinet 56 – Hopefield Estate). A closer inspection of the area also reveals that the nearby Cabinet no. 50, which covers part of the same postcode area, should be getting “fibre broadband” by June 2016. So at least some local residents might soon be happy.

We have asked Openreach for a more recent comment and hope to update again later.

UPDATE 10th May 2016

Openreach has confirmed to ISPreview.co.uk that the cabinet in question has only existed since late 2011 (this around when the first Open Market Reviews were taking place) and so it wasn’t included in either Openreach’s commercial fibre rollout or the intervention area for the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband rollout in partnership with the public sector.

However, Openreach has been discussing a privately-funded, potential engineering solution with two local developers and they hope to progress this. Mind you no agreement has been set in stone and so for now this is only talk of something that might or might not happen.

UPDATE 13th May 2016

Local sources are informing us that Taylor Wimpey has agreed to help fund the cabinet’s upgrade.

Leave a Comment
11 Responses
  1. Avatar Steve Jones

    This sort of thing should have been covered under planning regulations several years ago. Developers often have to contribute to the upgrading of local infrastructure and services, such as uplifting water or electricity.

    If the requirements are put into planning regulations (at least for larger developments), then this should sort itself out.

  2. Avatar Shady Creek

    The only way this is going to change is if prospective property buyers make connectivity a make or break decision. It is too late to be picking a fight after moving in.

    Once property developers truly feel the pain on sales, they will be quickly forced into taking meaningful action rather than wiping their hands after a quick email saying the ducts are in place.

  3. Avatar Kyle

    I have the same issue in Norfolk.. BT upgraded 11/12 cabinets and let the 12th now stuck with 1.5mbps on a new build estate

  4. Avatar FibreFred

    Once again people are failed by the developer and this one has the front to shift the blame

  5. Avatar Parky

    Exactly the same issue on a new build estate by CALA Homes in East Reading. Ironically the cabinet number we connect to is cabinet 56 as well, on the Earley exchange. Openreach are not interested in upgrading the cabinet, CALA have the houses sold so they don’t care, meanwhile my neighbour gets FTTC as his portion of the development uses a different (older FTTC enabled) cabinet, while we are stuck with flakey ADSL.

  6. Avatar JoshBosh

    The lack of housing means that someone will always buy these new houses.
    When i was looking to rent my current property, i had a difficult time locating somewhere that could get suitable internet for me to work with. Everything in my area up for rent, was an obvious buy to let. All brand new builds, and checking the internet speed, was stuck with sub 8Mbit.
    At the end of the day, the companies that build the houses have no interest in inviting Virgin, or BT in during the construction phase, as they don’t want the cabinet placement to delay anything. These are shareholder owned businesses, and the shareholders only interest is to get paid a dividend at the end of the year. With the lack of housing available, and the mortgage scheme for new build houses, the developer knows that they will sell in no time.

  7. Avatar M

    Thats rather amusing because I got the exact same response for my BT cabinet in S.Yorkshire too which is stuck on ADSL even though the exchange is enabled, plus a connected cabinet a few metres up the road IS enabled for FTTC. Even more amusing the fact that the cabinet is reported by SFSY (BDUK) as targeted for commerical rollout by BT.

    “I’m really sorry but having investigated our network data, we’re not currently able to supply you with a fibre service from our existing network. Unfortunately your property isn’t currently included in the fibre roll-out because after our initial survey, it was established that Openreach would not be able to upgrade this cabinet at this moment in time because a viable solution could not be found”
    — Fibre Enquiries team spokesperson.

    Which confirms I just got a generic response like the one in the article.

    • Avatar karl

      Yeah id like to know what “it was established that Openreach would not be able to upgrade this cabinet at this moment in time because a viable solution could not be found” is supposed to mean.

      Unless as the news item points out its about cost/money then surely no matter much begging the developer did to BT it would still not have a “viable solution” to “upgrade this cabinet”.

      I also do not understand how or why people think a developer should legally have to ensure homes have superfast broadband. In fact even if they did it would be a pointless law as legally you can build with no electricity supply to the properties in place (you only legally have to supply Gas or Electricity, and even then it does not have to be mains supplied), so unless your router is solar power good luck even if must have superfast broadband to new homes was made law.

  8. Avatar Joey


    Our new-build estate in here in North Manchester built 3 years ago, also created by Taylor Wimpey is in the exact same situation!

    We’re stuck with ADSL with speeds no higher than 1.5 mbps connection! We have reached out to OpenReach and they gave us the same exact answer. We also had someone reach out again and they’ve told us they require at least £10k (funded by ourselves) to get us connected to fibre. We have reached out to local councillors too and they just don’t seem to be interested.

    What happened to this legal right to fast broadband? What happened to be a leader in broadband? No one cares and we’re stuck with a broadband connection that can’t even play a damn 480p YT video.

    We’ve been told year after year by the likes of BT that it will come and nothing…

    Anyone know what we can do because it looks like no one gives a shit!

  9. Avatar fastman

    joey — confused around this legal right to fast broadband? — there is no such thin

    if you have been offered a gap fund from openreach that will be the gap outside of the commercial case (not the cost) that the community / managing agent / Developer need to find to enable that cab to be deloyed based on a pay back of around 12/15 year

  10. THey’ll struggle to shift properties with slow Internet these days. It’s weird to think of it, but the Internet is like running water or heating, it’s totally essential.

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