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GREG’s BROADBAND BLOG

BT Openreach FTTC services LIVE and taking orders via numerous providers including BT and Sky (minimum contract 1 year)

Update 7/10/15

GIGACLEAR

Concrete for Fibre cabinet poured at end Thornby Lane on the 5th October. The  cabinet itself will be installed on Friday 9th as planned and the network build from Guilsborough will commence on 12th October.

 

Update 28/09/15

GIGACLEAR

Have submitted notice to Northants CC to pour the cabinet plinth between the 1st October and the 5th October 2015; with a cabinet installation date of the 9th October 2015.

Waiting for cabinet power connection date from Western Power but this will be sometime just after 19th October 2015.

Update 22/09/15

GIGACLEAR

The following update was received this afternoon from Paul Coles (Gigaclear Delivery Manager for our area)

·       Build crews will be starting back haul provision week commencing 5th October 2015

·       Back haul provision is coming from Guilsborough, so a large build program is required

·       Looking to install cabinet week commencing 12th October 2015, pending removal of site offices from proposed location

·       Looking to have power installed week commencing 26th October 2015

·       Hopefully cabinet will be live pending backhaul provision – middle to end of November – only pinch point on this is crossing A5199

·       Should then see first customers go living end of November 2015 – beginning of December 2015

·       The build will then continue throughout December 2015 until completed

·       Naseby Village is expected to be completed by end January 2016

·       Naseby community build for Gigaclear includes Haselbech, Thornby, Cold Ashby and properties en-route which will continue into the New Year will fully completed by April 2016

 

 

Update 20/09/15

BT Openreach FTTC

GREAT news for those waiting to place their orders for a BT Openreach product. Paul Bimson (BT Regional Partnership Director for the East Midlands) contacted me on Friday to announce that the BT FTTC infrastructure was now in place and customers could place orders with BT themselves (Infinity) or from any one of a number of other providers such as Sky.

Orders placed should be fulfilled within a week or so, so early adopters can be running FAST by the end of September.

This is a major milestone for Naseby after waiting so long for “usable” broadband, where our speeds up until this point have probably averaged 2Mb/s across the village.

Consumers will be able to place orders for up to 38Mb/s and up to 76Mb/s (the exact speed of which will be determined from your distance from the cabinet at the end of the Thornby Road. If very simple terms the closer you are to the end of Thornby lane the closer you will get to the maximum speeds advertised. So if you are in Nutcote or the right end of High Street fill your boots, if you are in Hall Close speeds will be somewhat less (check for approximate speeds via the online BT speed checker). Either way everyone in the village will benefit significantly over the speeds up until this date.

IMPORTANT – CUSTOMERS WILL NOT GET ANY SPEED BENEFITS WITHOUT MOVING THEIR SUBSCRIPTION PACKAGES FROM THE OLD ADSL BASED TECHNOLOGY (WHICH WILL CONTINUE TO BE AVAILABLE)

NEW CONTRACTS FROM BT CURRENTLY START WITH A MINIMUM COMMITMENT OF 12 MONTHS.

As more “real life” experiences are gathered I shall publish these on this site over the coming weeks and months.

 

Update 10/09/15

GIGACLEAR

This morning I held a meeting with the new GIGACLEAR network delivery manager for Naseby and the surrounding area. I voiced concerns from the Parish that the GIGACLEAR website suggests that the dates for their service appear to have pushed out until April 2016 (in the past day this has actually been updated to suggest the first customers will go live in January 2016 with the end of network build in April 2016 – a little better).

As of today I have been told that the Gigaclear cabinet is expected to be installed and LIVE by the end of November, and is likely to be located near the BT cabinets at the top of the Thornby road (next to the new housing development).

Once the cabinet is live, fibre will be run down Nutcote and then down High street with connection pots being installed outside of houses as the new cables are laid. Since the cabinet will be live by this point, once houses have their pots outside it should be no more than a couple of weeks before houses can receive their service (we will not have to wait for the entire village to be completed before all properties are made live).

On this basis the first houses (nearest the cabinet) should be able to receive service starting mid December 2015. It is anticipated that the complete village will be “fibred up” by the end of January 2016.

The reference to April 2016 is actually when the entire area goes live – this includes Cottesbrooke, Haselbech, etc, etc.

BT OPENREACH

As of today I have no updates from BT regarding their Openreach service in the village. The rural broadband checker still says that their FTTC service will be available within the next 6 months – watch this space.

 

 

 

It now seems certain that FASTER BROADBAND will be coming to our village in the next 6 months.

2 possibilities exist, namely BT Openreach (to be made available through BT’s own Infinity product as well as by others like TalkTalk, Sky, etc) and new kid on the block GIGACLEAR.

Latest information suggests that BT products will be available around August with GIGACLEAR in similar timescales if there is enough interest.

In recent GIGACLEAR roadshows held in Maidwell and Cold Ashby, they suggest that services could be available by September/October, but this is still subject to achieving enough interest from Naseby and other local communities.

Earlier this week GIGACLEAR hit their target levels of interest needed to come to our village – This is great news and according to GIGACLEAR, should allow them to supply services to the village by September/October 2015.

However, the 2 providers are actually supplying quite different products.

BT OPENREACH

BT is nationally rolling out its Fibre based Infinity product using a technology called FTTC (or Fibre To The Cabinet). Essentially what this means is that BT run Fibre Optical Cable from their exchange (in Guilsborough) to local distribution cabinets in our village (normally slim green boxes, examples of which you’ll see at the top of Thornby lane next to the new development). From there, the data travels along existing copper wires to each and every home currently served.

There are pluses and minuses to this approach.

PLUS

1)      Fibre can be brought to our village and the 2 Infinity products 76MB/s and 38MB/s download and up to 19MB/s upload. Note it is still an asymmetric technology with download being much faster that upload (but most of us read more than we write to the internet).

2)      Once BT bring Fibre to the cabinets, the patching of this extra speed to individuals houses can be relatively quick (capacity allowing) since the existing telephone wiring is re-used.

3)      Once Openreach has fibre enabled our cabinet, residents will be able to order their broadband services from a number of suppliers and NOT JUST BT e.g Sky, Talk Talk, etc.

MINUS

1)      Copper wire (or possibly some very old aluminium wiring) is still the bottleneck, since data transfer speeds do degrade the further you are away from the street cabinet. i.e. if you have a house across the road from the cabinet you will probably get the full 76MB/s or 38MB/s. However, if you are unlucky and a long distance from the cabinet this speed can drop dramatically.

 

The below table shows speed against distance from the street cabinet – note at around 650 metres the speed has dropped by half (grey columns show distance from the cabinet in km e.g 0.1 is 100m, 0.6 is 600m and so on.

 

0.0

80.0

0.6

51.0

1.2

24.5

1.8

18.0

2.4

13.3

0.1

80.0

0.7

43.0

1.3

23.0

1.9

17.0

2.5

12.5

0.2

80.0

0.8

35.0

1.4

22.0

2.0

16.5

2.6

11.7

0.3

76.0

0.9

31.0

1.5

21.0

2.1

15.5

2.7

10.8

0.4

69.0

1.0

28.0

1.6

19.8

2.2

14.8

2.8

10.2

0.5

60.0

1.1

26.0

1.7

19.0

2.3

14.0

2.9

9.4

 

More recent information from BT, now suggests that 90% of the village should achieve speeds in excess of 24Mb/s which is over 10 times the current village average. We do not yet have worst case performance information on the remaining 10% and where they are (save probably the furthest from the cabinet).

 

2)      Less of an issue, but it’s not a symmetrical speed up and down, which means if you do a lot of file transfer TO other people (perhaps you are a design business and need to send large files) the upload speeds may still not be enough for you.

STOP PRESS

In the past couple of days BT have issued a statement on their position regarding Naseby (I’m sure it’s more than a coincidence after them hearing about GIGACLEAR’s sales/marketing campaigns to ours and surrounding villages). The statement reads:

Superfast fibre Broadband for Naseby!!!

 

The Naseby community is to benefit from BT’s investment partnership with the County Council to extend the reach of fibre broadband to 95% of Northamptonshire business and residential premises.

As part of this rollout programme, a new fibre broadband cabinet is to be installed in Naseby and once the service goes live by mid-summer, residents and businesses will be able to order a fibre broadband service from their current broadband provider or choose a service from over 150 service providers (e.g. BT Infinity, Sky Broadband, Talk Talk and Plusnet) using the Openreach fibre infrastructure to provide services to their customers.

Once the new fibre cabinet has gone live, any member of the community with a telephone line will be able to upgrade to the new fibre broadband service (offering speeds of up to 80Mbs). No digging of verges, pavements and driveways is needed to connect a property to the new fibre broadband service.

Naseby residents and businesses requiring even faster broadband speeds, will also have the option (when this is made available in the area) to order a fibre to the premises (FTTP) connection via an on-demand arrangement. Speeds of up to 330Mbps are possible via this fibre broadband technology.

When the new fibre cabinet has gone live, residents/businesses will be notified via Superfast Northamptonshire (leafleting, cabinet stickers and local media). Residents/businesses may also wish to view further details/list of ISP’s using the fibre infrastructure etc. via the Openreach website:  

http://www.superfast-openreach.co.uk/

 

In summary GREAT news -  increased competition will help keep prices competitive.

However, note that BT always quote (“UP TO” speeds – depending upon distance from the cabinet, like we are promised up to 8MB/s currently, with most people getting around 1.5MB/s).

 

 

GIGACLEAR

Who are GIGACLEAR ? Must admit I hadn’t heard about them until a year ago, but they are a private company funded by private equity investment. They specialising in the “profitable” rural areas that BT has up until now been neglecting. More information can be found on them at the following web site

http://www.GIGACLEAR.com/

However, GIGACLEAR are NOT the same as BT and have a fundamentally different product. Their product offering is a FTTP (Fibre To The Premises) offering. The main difference here is that fibre doesn’t come part of the way to you house, it comes ALL the way to you house.

Across the UK there are already large Fibre Networks which link phone exchanges, link mobile phone operators’ masts, etc. GIGACLEAR does not connect to BT’s telephone exchanges, it connects directly to the UK Fibre Network and runs its own Fibre from this to each and every house that it sells to.

PLUS

1)      The Technology is completely future proof with the lowest package offering 50MB/s down and up (it is symmetrical and so offers customer the same upload speed as download speed). If you buy 50MB/s you will get 50MB/s, it does not deteriorate with distance.

2)      If you are a business and transfer a lot of data around you can currently a product up to 1000MB/s up and down (yes that’s right 1000), the price of which is £72/month. Fibre technology over time can actually take higher speeds. The copper in FTTC from BT will always be a limiting factor.

3)      Residents signing up to the minimum 50MB/s package in the first year will receive 100MB/s free of charge for the year (it will then revert to 50MB/s after this).

4)      Unlimited data limits (some low end BT packages restrict you to 20GB/month)

 

MINUS

1)      They are still a relatively new supplier and even they will have technical and logistical problems in delivering their service.

2)      They will have to dig up verges and the road outside of your house to put the fibre infrastructure in.

3)      There are 1 off installation costs of around £200 to connect to their network and run the fibre from the road to your property (which they actually subcontract and normally represents around £100 of the £200).

4)      At £38.50 per month for the 50MB/s package it sounds expensive, however there is a counter to this.

 

Currently with every BT package you have to take out line rental at around £16/month. On top of that you have call charge packages e.g. BT Anytime at £7.50/month and on top of that BT also charge a couple of pounds for things like Caller Identification (being able to see the number of the caller on your phone), 1571 answer phone service, etc. Basically it all adds up.

 

In fact if you look at a typical Infinity charge for high speed broadband, with a call package and some options like caller display you are looking at around £45/month.

 

GIGACLEAR has an answer to the above. Basically, you can run the phones in your house over the GIGACLEAR network. This allows you to drop BT saving £15/month. You can buy a box of tricks you stick on your GIGACLEAR broadband for £7/month which replaces your BT socket and it gives you free UK anytime calls with no line rental. It also offer features like caller ID, answer machine (+ others) for free. You can even take your BT number with you in most cases. Of course if you really want to, you can continue to have your phone supplied by BT and broadband from GIGACLEAR.

5)      Even though FTTP is a technically superior product, GIGACLEAR are not without their own problems from time to time. However generally the praise to criticism ratio of feedback on the internet is very good.

6)      In order to start putting “spades in the ground” GIGACLEAR need to get around a 30% sign up in an area. This does not necessarily mean 30% in Naseby, since they will do a number of villages in 1 hit. Of course, if they don’t hit their interest target they won’t come.

 

So essentially you can get future proof broadband and phone for the same price as BT.

 

My personal view is that it would be great to have both BT and Gigaclear coming to our village.

 

FACTS

 

Many people do not need the ultra high speeds that FTTP can offer (we’ve managed with< 5MB/s for the past 10 years, getting 20MB/s and above will satisfy the appetite of most).

 

For some properties in the village, getting a trench from the road will be difficult or impractical e.g. if you have a block paving all around your house or an exceptionally long drive. For those, the BT Openreach option will be a no brainer.

 

For those that want full futureproofing and don’t have to worry about “property access problems” then GIGACLEAR is a very attractive proposition.

 

Pricing wise I think they will work out very similar (when taking a combined phone/broadband package)

 

MY PERSONAL ADVICE

 

If you don’t mind a slightly higher setup cost, the groundworks needed to connect the fibre from the road to your property and want the best product with the best futureproofing sign up to GIGACLEAR

 

If you don’t need the extra performance now (or in the longer term) that FTTP brings and access to your property will be difficult due to location/block paving ,etc go BT. You will also save a few pounds in the initial setup costs.

 

 

 

Other Questions

 

1)      What it’s more than 17 metres from the GIGACLEAR connection point at the edge of my land to my house ?

£95 installation gets you a trench dug from a 3rd party contractor to around 17metres in length – anything over will cost more, but certainly not more than £95/17m metres I figure.

However, there is also a “self install” option, so if you have access to a digger (or a shovel) you can dig a trench from the “pot” at the edge of your land to the entry point of our house.

However, I’d check this out with GIGACLEAR before signing up.

For some this may make GIGACLEAR a none starter.

 

2)      What happens if BT eventually come to the village too?

GIGACLEAR are quite up front in saying that if BT came to village they wouldn’t – now that it looks like BT are very much coming it will be interesting to see what GIGACLEAR do.

Another point of note is that once fibre goes into the ground (from any company), by law they have to open up access to other providers over that infrastructure. GIGACLEAR publicly stated in the meetings held that strategically, their business is not to sell broadband packages in the long term, it’s to “sell on” access to its infrastructure.

 

3)      What if I’m not happy with GIGACLEAR and their products ?

First I’d be really surprised if this turned out to be the case, but the contract you sign up to is 15 month (12 plus a 3 month cool off), so if things do get hairy you can always go back to BT. With the network opened up then of course there can be competition to sell broadband on it from a number of suppliers which can only be good for us moving forward (although I understand that this has not yet happened yet in other GIGACLEAR areas)

 

4)      Where is GIGACLEAR Support ?

 

They have a UK support centre (yes UK, unlike BT’s offshore one).

If you have any questions before considering signing up I’d just give them a buzz yourselves.

 

01865 591 100

 

Just to re-iterate I am in no way connected to GIGACLEAR and have NO financial incentivisation for “bigging up” GIGACLEAR. I’m just a technologist who likes future proof “fix and forget” solutions.

They also do not represent the views of the Parish Council or any other public or private body – they are my opinions ONLY, hopefully being shared for the greater good of the community.

 

Thanks for reading.

 

Greg Pritchett

 

If you have any questions about this document please feel free to email (preferable) or phone me (gregpritchett@hotmail.com or 01604 740717)

 

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