Sunday, 18 November 2012

Overall Exchange Status

This is the latest news from BT. To track "history" please see the December 2011 thread. As previously advised all properties in the Capel exchange area will be served by either:

Fibre to the Premises (FTTP)

* Approximately 160Mbps
* Most properties in the exchange area will get FTTP
* Only properties in Capel and Beare Green will get FTTP

Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC)

* Performance will depend on length of copper run from cabinet to property
Some remote properties (about 40) will see little or no uplift
Some remote properties (about 80) will see uplift (up to 14.9Mbps) but will not get Infinity (15Mbps+)
* Some properties in Capel and Beare Green will get FTTC
* Areas served by FTTC include:
** North Capel and parts of Beare Green - live
** North Ockley - live
** Leith Hill (from Anstie Lane) – delayed pending wayleaves - now resolved
** Leith Hill (from additional cabinet in central Coldharbour) – planned

Deployment Issues

The vast majority of fibre feeding the FTTC cabinets and "PON Area" splitters has been laid.

Fibre has been installed for the new Anstie Lane cabinet.  When this cabinet is commissioned most properties connected to it will see an immediate uplift - and those "within range" will be able to get Infinity (15Mbps+). Deployment of the additional cabinet in central Coldharbour has been approved by BT and this is working its way through engineering planning processes. Commissioning of the additional cabinet is not dependent on commissioning of the Anstie Lane cabinet. Some "re-parenting" of copper runs on Leith Hill will take place to exploit the additional cabinet.

FTTP will be delivered using a Passive Optical Network (PON) - see:

This architecture uses optical splitters to reduce the number of fibres required (c.f. an Active Optical Network) and does not require electrical power. The FTTP network will be commissioned “PON area by PON Area”  - where a PON area is equivalent to an area served by a cabinet.


BT anticipates (subject to the usual "Health Warnings"):
  1. The first "PON Area" in the Capel exchange to be commissioned will be in the Markham Road area hopefully within the next three weeks or so – there are ducts that need de-silting and the timescales assume that BT can get access and that it goes well. There are 5 PON Areas in total and these will be commissioned sequentially. No timescales WRT subsequent PON Areas are available at present.
  2. BT expects that the Anstie Lane cabinet should be commissioned before the end of the year.
  3. The central Coldharbour cabinet should be commissioned during Q1 2013 – any copper “re-parenting” should take place concurrently. 
BT Speedchecker

The BT speed checker is at:

BT tells me "The speed checker will only provide data on those premises it knows are connected to appropriate cabinets / PON areas  – until the cabinet / PON area has a firm release date, or has been released, no new speeds will show". I think the problem here is that the two Leith Hill FTTC cabinets and all of the PON Areas do not yet have firm release dates in the speed checker database. I have pointed out to BT that its speed checker is "less than helpful".

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Latest News from BT

Representatives of the campaign team met with BT Group's Regional Director for the South East, the BT Openreach Project Manager for the Capel exchange upgrade and a representative from BT Retail on 30th November. BT updated us about plans for the Capel exchange - fantastic news for almost everybody. In summary:

  • 93.2% will get between 15 and (up to) 100Mbps - BT Infinity
  • 4.6% will get between 2 and 15Mbps
  • 2.2% will get between "no change" and 2Mbps

Most of the properties getting BT Infinity will get fibre all the way to the property - i.e. (up to) 100Mbps. The Capel exchange will then be one of the best enabled in the country - BT is delivering way beyond its Race to Infinity promise.

This will be delivered by upgrading three existing cabinets (one in Anstie Lane and two in Horsham Road) to FTTC (fibre to the cabinet then existing copper to the property) and five other existing cabinets to FTTP (fibre all the way to the property).

Work is underway at the moment building the "spine" of the network. The three FTTC cabinets should be enabled before the end of February 2012. Work on the FTTP cabinets is running in parallel but will not be completed until the end of July 2012. This is later than orginally estimated but nobody should complain. BT will install 133km of fibre during the exchange upgrade (much more than the campaign team ever expected) and this will obviously therefore take more time. Delivery dates are - as always - subject to the usual proviso that everything is subject to what BT discovers when carrying out the work (e.g. collapsed ducts etc).

In a nutshell if your property is currently connected to a cabinet slated for an upgrade to FTTP you will get (up to) 100Mbps but BT (quite reasonably) adds the proviso "there might be a few isolated exceptions depending on plan & build issues". If your property is connected to a cabinet slated for an upgrade to FTTC the theoretical maximum you might get is 40Mbps (but BT is installing equipment in FTTC cabinets that is capable of providing 80Mbps - as and when BT upgrades its FTTC Infinity headline speed). In practice actual performance degrades in line with the length of the copper run between an FTTC cabinet and a property.

6.8% of exchange properties will get something between "No uplift and 14.99 Mbps" depending on how close they are to their (FTTC) cabinet - note that most will get a decent "uplift". It's a matter of fact that the copper network that BT inherited from the GPO (if you don't know what that stands for ask your dad) was installed pre-war. The copper network grew "phone line by phone line" so the actual route from property to cabinet (and then exchange) could be quite convoluted. You may be able to throw a stone at your nearest cabinet but the actual copper run may be much longer. Hypothetically your copper run may not actually come from the cabinet that is closest to your property "as the crow flies". BT cannot be blamed for this - it's just the way it is.

Everybody will want to know "what about me". BT tells us that as cabinets are enabled (or perhaps shortly beforehand) it will update the database that drives the "broadband speed checker" tool at its public website. You will then be able to enter your phone number and be told what speed you might expect. We will let you know when that's available.

Based on the information that BT has disclosed to us so far, it appears that most properties in Capel, Beare Green and Ockley (North) are likely to get BT Infinity (with a very high proportion getting up to 100Mbps). Some properties in Coldharbour / Leith Hill (and some between Coldharbour and Beare Green) will not get BT Infinity.

The cabinet in Anstie Lane (Coldharbour) serves the most remote properties in the exchange area and consequently it was not viable for BT to run fibre to every property - note this was never part of the "Race to Infinity" promise anyway. About 40 properties won't get 2Mbps (but may possibly get a very basic or perhaps more reliable service for the first time - the Anstie Lane cabinet effectively becomes the exchange and that's a lot closer than Capel). I know quite a few of these properties have a broadband service from Kijoma already - so probably best to stick with that. Of the remaining 110 "Coldharbour" properties about half should get Infinity and half will see an increase from existing speeds (probably around 0.5Mbps) to something between 2Mbps and 14.99Mbps.

If you have any comments or general questions (please - no enquiries about specific properties) feel free to post using the form below - if you post as "Anonymous" please include your name in the post or it may be deleted.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Progress Report from BT

I was briefed by BT's Superfast Broadband Programme Director (Johnny McQuoid) yesterday. The headlines are:

Openreach Progress
High-level design has been completed and "work packages" have been defined. Critical equipment and materials have been ordered / reserved for Capel.

High Level Design
BT's high level design is to install "Fibre to the Property" (FTTP) for a very substantial number of properties and "Fibre to the Cabinet" (FTTC) for others. If you get FTTP you are in broadband heaven! If you get FTTC you are also in "broadband heaven" - if the copper run from your cabinet to your property is "not too long". If you have a very long run of copper to either the exchange or your nearest cabinet you may see little or no improvement. There are many shades of grey in between. BT is not planning any new cable routes for Capel exchange (i.e. new "wayleaves"). Various existing copper runs will be replaced by fibre.

Johnny tells me that out of 1,920 Capel exchange lines about 1,700 (88%) should be able to get Infinity broadband. Johnny also tells me that the planned split between FTTP and FTTC is 70/30. This implies that around 1,200 properties served by the Capel exchange will have an FTTP solution. This is way better than I had expected and goes way beyond BT's "Race to Infinity" promise.

Unfortunately, 220 properties will not get Infinity broadband - at least this time round. I am trying to get some information about what sort of performance improvement they may get. I know many people at the extremities of the Capel exchange will be disappointed not to get Infinity broadband - but relieved to get enough additional bandwidth for "regular" Internet use.

We should start to see some real action (e.g. BT Openreach vans) around October / November 2011. BT engineers will be "pulling cable" - and doing other engineer things! Some time around then BT will also enable all Capel exchange users to "check what speed I might expect" at BT's Broadband Speed Checker. I will e-mail all registered users of this website as soon as that functionality is published by BT. Before then all you will get is the standard "sorry - you can't have it" message.

Johnny tells me that the new high-tech cabinets and exchange equipment will be available for call-off from suppliers from January 2012. I would guess that individual properties will get switched over to Infinity broadband during Q1 and Q2 2012 - as various works in the exchange area get completed.

I also learned today that the technology that will be installed will (at least for most Capel exchange users) support 80 Mbits/sec (headline download speed) by the end of 2012 (compared to 40 Mbits/sec which is the currently advertised "Infinity" headline download speed). Outstanding!

Health Warning!
I am confident that the information published above was provided by BT in good faith. This is a complex engineering project and complex project plans do have a tendency to change - as details emerge. Please read the above in that context!

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

It's OFFICIAL - Capel Gets Infinity Broadband

BT issued a press release on 2nd Feb 2011 announcing all Top 10 Race to Infinity exchanges as winners! Capel was 8th with a fantastic 77% vote and is therefore set to get Infinity Broadband by early 2012.

The work will be carried out by BT Openreach and funded by BT Retail. The exact nature of the solution will be known in a few months when BT Openreach has completed its detailed engineering survey and design. However the campaign team understands from BT that the intention is to bring Infinity Broadband to the vast majority of properties in the exchange area. The campaign team will keep you updated by posting news in this BLOG.

If you have any QUESTIONS please post a comment below (click on "comments") and the campaign team will endeavour to provide ANSWERS.