Friday, November 19, 2010

BT’s Broadband Answer for Thanet

For the benefit of Cllr Mike Harrison and others concerned by what appears to be a second class broadband service here in Thanet, I've just had a reply from the Head of Government Relations at BT, who I happen to know with another of my 'hats' on. I'm most grateful that she took the time to answer my question and to clarify BT's plans for broadband 'deprived' areas such as our own, she writes:

"Sorry for delay in getting back to you.

I think the first point to make is that we do not cap the speed of broadband at our exchanges as you suggested in your article. As part of BT Broadband we always provide the best speed that a line can support, but we can't guarantee a certain speed. Speeds aren't fixed, and the rate mainly depends on the particular phone line and how far a customer lives from the telephone exchange. Speeds will also fluctuate as the number of people using the network changes.

We give customers an estimated speed for their broadband when they place an order. For example. the estimated speed for broadband to the Ramsgate Youth and Community Centre, High Street, Ramsgate, CT11 9, telephone number 01843 592014, is 6Mb. We advise customers who are not getting the estimated speed for their line to report it as a fault to their provider who can report in turn to Openreach if the problems is with the BT line. Openreach engineers can then investigate and make sure that the line is supporting the best possible broadband speed given its electrical characteristics.

BT are investing to install ADSL2+, the next generation of broadband equipment offering speeds of up to 20Mg, at exchanges across the UK. To date, Thanet (Margate). Ramsgate and Herne Bay exchanges have been enabled and Broadstairs is in the roll-out and will be enabled by March 2011.

There are also live Ethernet nodes at Thanet (Margate), Ramsgate and Herne Bay, which offer highly reliable, flexible and un-contended fixed Internet access services over a wide range of technologies and leased line connections to business users.

BT is currently installing fibre optic technology offering broadband speeds of up to 40M/bits in several locations across the country. To date we have announced over 620 telephone exchanges where we will be installing this technology by the end of 2011 and plan to roll out to exchanges covering over 60% of the UK by 2015. Herne Bay has been announced in this roll-out. We plan to start offering service from this exchange from September 2011 and over 16,000 customers it serves will be able to benefit. Unfortunately, other exchanges in Thanet have not been included in these plans to date. The 'final third' of the UK is mainly made up of the more rural, less populated areas, and is more challenging to reach.

The government has suggested a minimum 2 M/bits across the UK by 2015, and funding was announced by the Chancellor in the recent spending review statement. As you are probably aware, each of the pilot four areas announced by the Chancellor will be allocated around £5-10m from a total of £530m funding announced to support the roll-out of broadband between now and 2015 to areas like this that the market alone will not reach. We will look at this as more detail is announced and will continue to explore all options that might bring broadband to more of our customers.


Anonymous said...

I'm in no way wishing to act as a PR rep for BT, but it is important to understand the background.
Openreach, which is part of the BT Group, but is regulated so that it is kept seperate from the rest of the group in order to ensure that all ISPs are treated the same way, is the company that is rolling out fibre to the home and fibre to the cabinet. It makes the decisions about which exchanges to enable with fibre according to complicated algorithms of its own.
However, a few months back, it announced that it was going to allow ISPs to affect its roll out plans and gave each ISP the opportunity to choose five exchances for Openreach to prioritise. The ISP would need to show its commitment by providing a guarantee as to how many end customers would take up the service, and if this number was not met, then the ISP would be liable for part of the costs of enabling the exchange.
So far, BT Retail is the only ISP that has taken this up, although it is equally open to Sky, TalkTalk and so on. So the Race to Infinity is BT Retail's way of deciding which are the five exchanges that it will choose in order to take up the Openreach option for prioritisation
It is not a lottery, in that it is a rational way of deciding which are the five exchanges in the country that are most likely to provide it with a profitable investment. Of course, it is also a massive PR exercise, to position BT Retail as the company that is really committed to fibre broadband.
However, any other ISP could be doing the same. It is also important to remember that the terms of this process from Openreach mean that each ISP can only prioritise a maximup of 5 exchanges. This is Openreach putting its toe into the water of how to best involve ISPs in the decision making process.
As far as I can see, the key issue is that, because Openreach is a business serving ISPs and not end users, the process that it is using to decide on which exchanges to prioritise is disfunctional. The process is resulting in a scattergun approach, which is making it very difficult for residential and business customers to know when they will be able to get superfast broadband, and therefore difficult for any local momentum to be built up.
My two pennyworth.


ascu75 aka Don said...

Maybe when the fibreoptic comes onliine speeds will go up for us on adsl lines as less traffic means faster broadband. I love BT they provide a great service.

Anonymous said...

If it is being built to cover the Country, why is Thanet not included?
BT, Opal, TalkTalk, Tiscali do the 'wrong' advertising. "Up to 40 Mbps", when they know they can only deliver 6 or at best 8.
Why is everything they do a 'rip-off'?
It's time OFT got going on them, and close a few down for fraud/false advertising.

Anonymous said...

As a part time Ramsgate resident I was disappointed that the Thanet exchange wasn't listed to be upgraded, but on the positive side Deal is marked up for 31/12/2011.
Could be fun to set up a 5GHz wireless link between Deal and Ramsgate, just to see what speed internet connection is possible.

Anonymous said...

anon again!
Birchington, alledgedly, has LLU (local loop unbundled) installed for 'talk-talk' aka pipex, nildram, tiscali, aol. However, 'talk talk' have been such a rubbish internet supplier in the past, I have NO confidence in them ever delivering a good service.
They pester on the phone too, and even refuse to give up the M.A.C. number with out a fight (which is against the law).
I do wish BT would get the fibre-optic system installed much quicker, and save all of us internet users having to cope with this sad state of affairs.
The trouble is in Britain, we talk about things too much before actually getting things done. In other, even third world countries, broadband is running at 40 Mbps. In Korea 80!!!
At home in Birchington I have 7.5 Mbps connection, in my Canterbury Office I get 20!

Anonymous said...

I live in Margate just over 1 mile from the Thanet Exchange. I am lucky to to get 3 meg download speeds, they are usually around 2 meg. The line is constantly dropping - I can't wait for different solution, the current provision is rubbish.

ARG9182 said...

I read an article the other day on the Internet that our local MP for Thanet had got Confirmation from BT that we in Thanet will all be basking in superfast broadband by the autumn of 2012.
Beleive it when you see it, with your own eyes is my motto. Especially regarding anything BT says. Saying that I have been with BT all my life and I'm 64yrs old now. Loyalty does not always have it's rewards.
ARG: Birchington Kent.

Anonymous said...

Just spoke to a BT 'online helper- no hope of super fast broadband in Herne Bay until summer 2015. The suggestion is that KCC now have the control of who gets what first - what a farce- they cant even sort the traffic in Canterbury!
Meanwhile my openreach engineer friend states that the exchange (1.2 miles from me)is taking orders - really

No hope of getting into the 20th century yet.