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The Curious Case of Hunslet 82 – G.fast Pod Waiting 3 Years to Go Live

Wednesday, July 24th, 2019 (11:11 am) - Score 2,580
hunslet 82 street cabinets

Sometimes trying to figure out why a service, which was built a long time ago, hasn’t yet gone live is harder than it should be and that’s particularly true when the operator that did the work (Openreach) claims it doesn’t know the answer either. So begins the unusual saga of Street Cabinet 82 in Hunslet (Middleton, South Leeds).

Strictly speaking the story of Hunslet 82 (MYHLT 82) begins all the way back in 2012, after Openreach (BT) initially shunned the cabinet for an upgrade to their UK Fibre-to-the-Cabinet (FTTC / VDSL2) broadband ISP technology. According to the operator, 82’s area had been deemed commercially unviable, which is despite local campaigners saying otherwise (here).

After a lot of campaigning the aforementioned decision was eventually reversed and Openreach (BT) finally completed the cabinet’s upgrade in 2013. Funnily enough all of its ports were almost immediately filled up to capacity (here), which just goes to show how wrong Openreach were about the area.

Since then cable operator Virgin Media has also expanded into the area and very soon after that (around June or July 2017) locals noticed that a team of engineers from Openreach had attach a hybrid fibre Huawei G.fast broadband pod to 82.

NOTE: On very short and stable lines Openreach’s G.fast service can deliver speeds of up to 330Mbps.

At this point we should say that it can sometimes take awhile (between build and activation) for a new service to go live and a wait of up to around 12 months is not uncommon (sometimes a little longer), although by the end of 2018 the G.fast pod on 82 still wasn’t live. Naturally we chased Openreach for an update and what followed was a lot of conflicting information, as well as more delays.

Initially Openreach responded to say that 82 was in the “final stages of commissioning” and they expected it to be “ready by the end of October [2018],” yet that date soon came and went. Adding insult to injury Openreach then told one local campaigner (Carl Thomas) in April 2019 – nearly 2 years after the G.fast pod was added – that he should seek a co-funded Community Fibre Partnership (CFP) instead.

Openreach’s Fibre Enquiries Team

“Thanks for getting in touch with us about fibre broadband availability in your area.

I’ve looked into your query and can see that the cabinet that you’re connected to hasn’t yet been upgraded for Gfast technology. And I’m afraid at the moment we don’t have any plans to upgrade it.

An option that many local groups – who want faster broadband – are taking is a Community Fibre Partnership (CFP). A CFP is where we work with a local group representing two or more premises to bring superfast, or ultrafast, to an area. Where possible we bring together funding from local authorities, Government voucher schemes and other grants to help make things affordable – plus we contribute toward the cost in line with our own commercial model too.”

Shortly after that ISPreview.co.uk began chasing Openreach for some clarification, again, although it took us several attempts over a period of several weeks before we actually got an answer –”cab 82 will be ‘live’ within a few weeks“, claimed the operator, but they were “not sure” what had delayed it for so long. Once again this prediction came and went with no progress.

Fast forward to this month (July 2019) and locals have just been told by Openreach’s twitter team that “the work is still on going which is why it’s not live. The estimated delivery for this will be between July – September next year” (2020). So just to be clear, a G.fast pod that was built in the middle of 2017 is not now expected to go live until over 3 years later! We think that must be a record.

Once again Openreach has not explained why such a record delay has occurred and in the absence of an explanation we can only speculate. One possibility is that since the build G.fast’s future has been thrown into a high degree of uncertainty by Openreach’s increased focus on Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) deployments (here), which have already reduced the original build target for G.fast (here) and may do the same again soon.

On top of that Cityfibre plans to rollout their 1Gbps FTTH network across almost the whole of Leeds over the next few years (here), which may have further reduced any incentive to build more G.fast. The catch here is that 82’s pod is already live and the fibre feeds are present, thus the cost of completing that build should not be so problematic as to prevent its activation.

Whatever the reason 82 seems to have set a new upper limit for activation delays and if the above is anything to go by then we have our doubts about whether the pod will ever go live. We’d love to hear from others who have suffered a significant delay like this (either in the comments below, on our forum or via email).

Leave a Comment
17 Responses
  1. Avatar Mike

    Quite simple, if OR can’t be bothered, go with VM…

  2. Avatar Lee

    Don’t bother with useless openreach. They still very poor and doesn’t seem care about you lots.

    • Avatar Badem

      Openreach are the network provider not the ISP so you can hardly ‘choose’ to go with them.
      In this case its either user Virgin Media or another ISP and the other ISP will be over Openreach network so……

  3. Avatar chris conder

    all part of the superfarce. Row after row of obsolete tech. The funding should go to the altnets who lay proper fibre instead of leeching the assets of an obsolete copper network. Helping a few go a bit faster is grand for those who live near a cab but doesn’t help the rest of your community, so it is hardly a partnership. Also if an alternative does want to work in the area to help the rural businesses and residents its customer base has been taken by a stop gap technology and it will be a year or two before they realise they have been sold a donkey instead of a jet.

    • Avatar TheFacts

      A few? Many millions.

    • Avatar John

      What on Earth are you talking about Chris?
      Did you actually read any of the article?

      What is this “funding” you think should go to Alt-Nets?

      The cabinet being discussed was part of the commercial rollout.
      No public money was used.
      The G.Fast pod wasn’t paid for with public cash either.

      So are you proposing instead of investing their own money on hybrid fibre/copper that OpenReach should just give their money away to Alt-Nets?

      The article makes clear Virgin have already covered the area, and CityFibre will also cover it in the near future.

      OpenReach should detach the G.Fast pod and switch to FTTP.
      They shouldn’t just give away their money to other networks though.

    • Avatar Vince

      Are you suggesting Chris that the B4RN product is so utterly compelling that if there is any competition people don’t choose it, and thus the only reason B4RN gets customers is where there is no real choice?

      Because that’s how you made it sound…

      If B4RN is so good, surely you’d welcome the idea of competition, especially inferior if you think it is as you’ll still get customers on your own merit…

    • Avatar GNewton

      “A few? Many millions.”

      Relatively few, mainly for those who already have decent FTTC speeds (at least according to your standards) due to the closeness to the cabinet.

      More is needed to compete with the likes of VM or other altnets!

  4. Avatar Cedric

    Same here in kennet island reading, cabinet 71, 23 puffin way.
    All around my building bt fiber and hyper optic is installed.
    My flat have been build 5 years ago and we still have a 3mb bandwith down and 0.5 up.
    Nothing is happening and bt/openreach is giving mixed answer and delivery date.

    • Avatar Badem

      Can be down to a number of factors, but with MDU (which you will be classed as for being a block of flats) require consent from the building owner/Management company to install MDU for FTTP.
      If they wont give it or respond to the wayleave requests then you end up being left behind once the move beyond your area for installing FTTP.
      And if FTTP is being rolled out they wont upgrade the CAB to G-Fast as that’s economically unviable.

  5. Avatar CarlT

    Thank you, Mark, for highlighting this. Be interesting to see if there are others seeing similar issues.

    This PCP has had a weird history. From not having enough copper to connect phone lines to ADSL struggling to manage a megabit to not enough VDSL ports to connect people to superfast to a G.fast pod sitting idle for years.

  6. Avatar vince

    By the time they enable that G.Fast pod (if they ever do) its likely to be either rusty or approaching its soon to be scrapped stage if Openreaches blarmy about FTTP covergae numbers in a few years is to be believed.

    Quite funny they shoved the pod there, and did not seem to know anything about it and initially referred carl to community funding projects for a cabinet that already existed.

    I spose that one way to scam things, do the work, pretend you have not, claim a load of money or get others to pay, turn up, find a fair percentage of work requiredd for cash taken is already done…….. PROFIT!

    • Avatar CJ

      “claim a load of money” from who, on a commercial cabinet?

      It’s BT shareholders who should be annoyed and holding the management team to account about why they’re having to wait 3 years to start getting any return on their investment and in the meantime giving competitors the chance to get a stronger foothold in the local market.

    • Avatar tim

      I think if you read his post and the news item he is making reference to the fact that BT initially told Carl they knew nothing about the cabinet already being or in the process of being upgraded to G.Fast and referred him to a community funded approach.

      If he had gone further with the community funding approach they recommended that would had meant funding from government, local authority or individuals in part or full to bring a G.fast cabinet to that location when one is already there but no activated.

      Luckily Carl is a smart individual and knew the cabinet was already in place, and likely already part of BTs own commercial rollout (although that is not clear as i believe FTTC in the area originally was not going to be delivered) if he was not smart enough to know about the G.Fast cab already there then he could had gone down the community funding approach. If that had of happened it makes you wonder where any public, local authority or government funding/scheme which may have been gained would had gone for a cabinet which already exists and has existed for years.

  7. Avatar FibreBubble

    Hunslet P82 and B4RN in the same thread. Who’d have thunk it. Just need Telford to get the hat trick.

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