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Community in Conflict After Removal of Openreach Broadband Cabinet UPDATE

Saturday, July 7th, 2018 (7:22 am) - Score 15,094
fttc uk broadband cabinets

Residents of the Coleham district in the town of Shrewsbury (Shropshire, UK) have moaned after a new “fibre broadband” (FTTC / VDSL2) street cabinet was removed by Openreach following complaints from the local Christian Science Society, which objected to the fact that it blocked the view of their sign.

Over the years we’ve reported on various situations where residents in a community have complained about the size, position or aesthetics of a new FTTC cabinet. On many of those occasions the gripes can be overblown and will tend to ignore the benefits to locals of being able to access superfast broadband speeds of potentially up to 80Mbps (Megabits per second).

The interesting thing about the situation in Coleham isn’t just the fairly small issue at the heart of the problem, but also the fact that other residents have been unhappy to see the cabinet removed because they now have no access to the new superfast broadband service (i.e. one of the few patches in the whole area that hasn’t yet been upgraded).

According to the Shropshire Star, Openreach’s new cabinet was initially installed in-front of the Christian Science Society building (SY3 7DS). Such cabinets tend to be around 4-5 feet tall (1300-1600mm) and this was high enough to obstruct the view (at the bottom) of the Society’s fixed-placement sign and make it tedious for locals to read its bulletins. Suffice to say that complaints were made and the cabinet vanished a few days later.

However not all residents agreed with the decision, particularly one home worker who will now be forced to continue using a slow ADSL2+ line (Virgin Media doesn’t appear to be present in the relevant area). On top of that Openreach has not yet formulated an alternative solution but they are trying.

A Spokesperson for Openreach gave a canned statement:

“Finding a suitable location for this new cabinet in Coleham has been extremely difficult. We completely understand that people living there are keen to see improvements to the local network. But equally, we have to balance that with our responsibility to carry out any work, including where we put new infrastructure, with the views of local residents and community groups.

We’ll be taking another look at this in the future, and people should monitor openreach.co.uk for the latest updates. It might also be worth them checking with their local council around any plans they might have for funding broadband improvements in the future.”

In fairness we can understand why the Christian Science Society were so miffed about the cabinet’s position (check out the newspaper’s image). At the same time local authorities do indeed expect such operators’ to situate their constructions in suitable locations, which must have a minimal impact on residents.

Sadly not having access to superfast broadband is also a negative impact. As such it’s a pity that some sort of compromise couldn’t have been reached as those who are desperate for access to the faster connectivity will now be returned to live in another cloud of uncertainty for awhile.

UPDATE 11th July 2018

The “church” has since said that it offered Openreach a piece of their land rent free and without restrictions for the re-siting of the cabinet, although clearly this didn’t work for the operator as it hasn’t been taken up (it’s entirely possible that the land they offered may have had other infrastructure or obstructions under the surface).

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Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he is also the founder of ISPreview since 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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44 Responses
  1. Jim

    If there was space available elsewhere, surely Openreach could have paid the Society to re-locate or erect a new sign?

  2. Skyrocket

    It’s Openreach pure stupid to put cabinet there by the church notice board. They should have put it somewhere else. The only way to stop people’s moaning is to installing FTTP instead without the ugly large cabinet.

    • Rich

      Still needs fibre nodes for gpon.

      Perhaps they should just not bother with fibre for this area now. Who gives a damn about a church noticeboard anyway, I don’t think I have ever read one myself.

    • Neb

      PON sucks at peak times – ok for small villages though. I can see PON with its asymmetric setup needing replacing sooner than P2P FTTP setups.

    • Meadmodj

      @NEB
      Yes not all FTTP are the same. Plenty of content for ISPreview in the future. FTTP and full fibre terms will become as notorious “fibre broadband”

    • Steve Jones

      @Neb

      Nonsense. The vast majority of FTTP in the world is GPON based, and bandwidth can be upgraded with no change to the infrastructure. TWDM-PON will have a 40gbps capability using existing fibre and splitters. There will be more developments to come as and when there is a demand.

      Symmetrical FTTP is only really required for a few cases, and in those few where it is required, that can be dealt with by supplying dedicated fibres. In the meantime, GPON saves a lot in the local distribution network and the amount of equipment needed at the head ends.

      There is, incidentally, no evidence that I’m aware of local segment contention being an issue on GPON installations in the UK (or anywhere else from what I can see if it’s done properly). Backhaul may be a different issue.

      This symmetrical claim also carries through the impression that point-to-point has no contention. That’s simply untrue. It’s only uncontended as far as the head end, and then the amount of contention is down to how much capacity is in the backhayl and peering links. That will be a small fraction of the total potential of all those fibre links.

    • Neb

      @Meadmodj agree.

      @Steve Jones it depends how your answering my general statement, but I believe you’ve semi agreed with me. As you’ve said, all is well with an upgrade – I agree with you on that one. I also agree with what you say on P2P and PON contentions. Contention never goes away after all, just up the chain. The angle I was coming from and have experienced in Stockton is that with GPON at peak times all it took is a few bandwidth hogs on the development to slow it right down to be worse than most FTTC connections, not sure how many people was sharing the connection. Contention remains at the last drop group with PON, where as P2P it’s back at the Cab/PoP.

      P2P is easily solved with upgrading the backhaul pipe as you’ve said, where as PON can trip up depending on the group of users and their habits your sharing with – potentially you’d need to either lower the splitter count with additional works or just leave it, let them suffer with no meaningful solution.

      In terms of in the future, I believe P2P is the best way to go. Sure I can see (unless there’s a massive up take in VR or something else upload intensive) GPON may be ok if the contention per line is low. Working from home means decent upload speeds are important to me and others too, as we can’t/don’t want to sit around all day waiting.

      If an operator came to us and said here’s GPON and here’s P2P you can have either installed for free (oh look flying pigs!) and the same monthly price. I’d say P2P please, wouldn’t you?

      Out of interest do you know what industry (BT/CityFibre) have as their split ratios for GPON?

    • MikeW

      2.5Gbps split 32 ways. Giving 78Mbps each.

      Don’t FTTC cabs start out with a backhaul of 1Gbps P2P? Shared by up to 288 users, that would be 3.5Mbps.

    • Neb

      @MikeW Believe your correct they start with a 1Gbps then add more as demand requires. ISP Review article comments saying the same (1Gbps jumps) – https://www.ispreview.co.uk/index.php/2018/04/the-2018-impact-of-full-to-capacity-fttc-fibre-broadband-cabinets.html#comment-188824

      Also a link (https://community.bt.com/t5/BT-Fibre-broadband/Infinity-Cabinet-Backhaul/td-p/756950) to an ‘expert’ on the BT community forums saying 2.5Gbps per line card – not sure on this one as I thought lower level BT exchanges just piped 1Gbps EADs out to the cabs.

      Someone from BT must be on here that knows? Anyone else?

    • MikeW

      That thread is, shall we say, full of cr@p. Apart from the very first answer that got crowded out.

      The best way to figure out the answer is to know the specs of the equipment; BT aren’t using non-standard hardware here.

      Let me dig it out …

    • Carl T

      That thread certainly is crap. The idea of each line card having its own backhaul is ridiculous, the line card count per chassis is wrong and they use point to point 1G Ethernet, not GPON.

      Whomever that is is confused about FTTP and FTTC.

    • dragon

      @Neb that sounds more like a poor deployment of GPON by an operator than an inherent problem with GPON itself.

      Just because you *can* have a 32 way split (or whatever depending on the generation.etc) doesn’t mean you should.

      XGPON can do 10G down 2.5G up

  3. NE555

    That’s nothing to what Virgin Media have been doing: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-glasgow-west-41185707

  4. Martin McDowell

    Could not see the link to the newspaper article mentioned
    Here it is…

    https://www.shropshirestar.com/news/local-hubs/shrewsbury/2018/07/05/row-over-broadband-in-town/

  5. CarlT

    That placement is…. not ideal.

    • Fastman

      Probably not great but must have been last option for siting a bduk cab

      Assume it is in highway land. Christian science is a society it it is not a church as you would regognise it as a nd very few people have ever heard of it

    • CarlT

      Whatever they are still a dumb place to put it. Far better to either get agreement or to simply deploy somewhere else. It might be public land but Virgin Media, who deploy far, far more cabinets, were at least here asking the permission of those who own the adjacent land before standing them. No reason why Openreach couldn’t have done the same and, indeed, it’s going to have cost them, the taxpayer or both standing then removing the cabinet.

      Of course it’s also possible that they do usually ask permission and the local contractor screwed up.

    • Fastman

      Might not be anywhere else I doubt his was the first place they looked and this one might have been dragging it’s heels for months .This might have been location of last resort

      Not great if your in that village and bduk tell you they ate coming

    • Carl T

      Well the lucky residents have now seen the cabinet be stood and then removed. Someone messed up on the siting. If there was nowhere else either tough luck or FTTP. As it is that’s public and private money wasted achieving nothing.

    • Fastman

      Fttp won’t be viable i assume not sure what else they will be able to do .not good

    • Steve Jones

      @CarlIT

      It’s not “public money” that was wasted. BDUK pay only for connected properties, so the project will have paid nothing so far for that work.

  6. Fastman

    So skyrocket are you funding the difference between fttc and fttp then as you think they should have fttp

  7. Murray Snudge

    The Society is a cult and should be ignored.

  8. Eb

    In previous years they had actually begun an FTTP rollout but then abandoned it.
    The fibre cable/ducting is still attached to the poles in coleham.

  9. Clive

    I have a rural radio connection and get as fast a download as I want to pay for. Also got my phone via same system so no longer beholden to BT. Their socket remains empty.

  10. Clive

    At the time, local council paid for the installation.

  11. A_Builder

    Phrases involving omelettes and eggs come to mind.

    May not have been the most brilliant positioning but at least OR were trying to do something to make things better.

    Let’s hope another location within link distance of the PCP and with power can be found.

  12. jeep

    Seen it all now they seriously could not have put that sandwich board anywhere else ? wonder how much that cost to place then remove(cabinet) common sense seems to be an endangered species in this country these days surely BT could have offered to erect a sign for them mutually agreeable which I daresay would have been a lot cheaper ?

  13. Steve

    Two things strike me about this.

    1) It doesn’t seem like the best place to plonk a cabinet but then we don’t know the layout of the street and infrastructure under pavement.
    2) There is already a short wall in front of that notice board and most notices seem to be using small text. Old people would have difficulty reading it and young people can sooner check their website for events surely?

    Seems selfish since they don’t own the public land outside their wall and their argument is that it’s obscuring the notices when in actuality it wasn’t it was stopping people from standing OUTSIDE the property boundary in a position to view the notices. Just seems so petty. Last of The Summer Wine style complaint.

  14. Optical

    Mountian out of a mole hill situation,they could have easily left fttc cab in it’s location, & move the notice board to the other side other their gate way, ample room for it, wouldn’t even be in the way of the exsisting cab,as it’s on the other wall,by the post box.

  15. Optical

    Here we go,here a photo of their place,old photo,but it hasn’t change much, makes things clear to understand layout.

    https://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/4001044

    • olicuk

      Looking at that and Google Street view (noting it’s down a footpath, not on a road) and aerial, it really is tight for space. What would be the “Christian” thing to do would be grant OR a wayleave to put the cabinet behind the sign in their large courtyard. About 2m ducting required and job done. Likelihood… About zero I guess.

  16. AndyC

    If the larger FTTC caused issues why not just fit a smaller ECI one (or two like they did here in carlisle on a certain bridge), or are they no longer installing that type?

  17. un4h731x0rp3r0m

    I find it quite amusing… Oh and for those saying move the sign… NO.

    I do not see why they should have to move their sign. If you have a house with a driveway and BT plonked a cabinet right in front of the driveway making it unusable i doubt anyone reading would be happy.

    If the cabinet blocked the sign at all or made it difficult to read then BT have made access to the sign difficult at best and impossible at worse.

    Furthermore if the sign is over 1.5 metres in height it would possibly require planning permission to move it to another location on the property. I do not see why anyone should have to go through that hassle because of BT dimwits.

    Good on them…. BT like to think they are God, unfortunately they just discovered one that is not a fallacy.

    Now BT take your green metal brick to the scrapyard, do not pass go, and pay the council back its money back for your failed rollout and idiot placement.

    • Sam

      How can you compare a simple Sign to a drive way? lmao. Its like you are comparing apples and oranges. They could have easily moved the sign and probably made BT move it for them.

    • un4h731x0rp3r0m

      Its called “access” it does not matter if you are blocking “access” to a sign or a driveway. If you can not get to the sign to read and/or easily change the notices within it then you blocked “access” to it.

      Furthermore the sign involved is not the sandwich board a few fools that commented seem to think, its the blue framed, glass/plexi sign board.
      https://www.shropshirestar.com/resizer/4JJ_pC7KjNtWJXtXc67VEcqbZsw=/1000×0/filters:quality%28100%29/arc-anglerfish-arc2-prod-shropshirestar-mna.s3.amazonaws.com/public/XC53MEUVK5HQ7IODHZTQBXXCAY.jpg

      With a big cabinet (approx 5ft tall) in front of that they would possibly of not been able to even open the thing to change the notices, considering the hinges are likely at the top as a double set of locks are at the bottom.

      Using simple geometry that means it opens OUT and UP ward and would need at minimum just based on the photo at least a few feet gap between it and whatever you put in front of it to still be able to (just like a driveway) actually use it.

      YOU ARE RIGHT ON ONE THING THOUGH…
      BT could had offered to move the sign for them (the simplest solution turn it 90 degress and place it against the light brown wall) then again if BT had bothered to speak to them in the first place they may have let them put the cabinet against that light coloured wall on their property, saving both BT and the religious mob all the issues which have happened. I guess due to typical BT we will do whatever the hell we want, even if it is brain dead attitude we will never know.

  18. Stu

    I live in the area and saw the cabinet before it was removed. It was one of those “was that always there?” moments. I think it’s more about how it looked outside the Christian Science wall than what would have been an easily moved notice board cabinet. Not that I’ve ever seen anyone read it.

    According to the Christian Scientists in the second Shropshire Star story it was only put when it wouldn’t fit in the intended position. But it’s not made clear where that was?

    https://www.shropshirestar.com/news/local-hubs/shrewsbury/2018/07/11/ongoing-row-over-broadband-cabinet/

    You can see from this older photo:

    https://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/4001044

    Just to the left is a BT green cabinet, behind the post box. Next to it is a grit bin (I should take a new photo)

    This is just a guess, but I imagine it was meant to go alongside the original cabinet and either was too long which would mean blocking the path to the left over the bridge, or access might have been difficult because of the postbox? I’d hope it wouldn’t be because they can’t move the grit box. Perhaps I’ll go get my tape-measure and see 😉 (not that I know how long these boxes are)

    It is a little annoying of course, especially as our last broadband contract just ended and we were planning on switching to fibre this month.

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